Lucas, by Kevin Brooks
|Cover artist||Tony Stone|
Lucas is a 2002 novel by Kevin Brooks about a teenager named Cait who lives on an isolated island off the coast of England and befriends outsider Lucas, eventually falling in love with him only to see the island's prejudices come to life.
The story opens as fifteen-year-old Cait recounts events occurring a year before on her small island home, Hale, which is roughly four miles long and two miles across at its greatest extent. She begins her story by explaining when she first met Lucas, a mysterious teenager who has traveled to the island to explore and live for a short time period. On the same day that she first sees Lucas, her brother returns home and she is nearly assaulted by another islander, Jamie Tait.
However, Lucas is not accepted into the island community easily, due to the discrimination he receives at the hands of the town folk. He works a few odd jobs, but is the victim of attempted assault, forcing him to defend himself and earn a negative reputation. Primarily this comes from Jamie Tait, a university student and popular islander from a wealthy family. The negative behavior escalates when Lucas rescues a young girl from drowning during a town festival, but is met with accusations of molestation.
Lucas is forced into hiding. However, he feels an urge to visit Cait one last time. Unfortunately, Jamie has decided to frame Lucas for the rape, assault and attempted murder of a promiscuous islander named Angel, who had befriended Bill, Cait's old best friend. The novel climaxes as the islanders attempt to capture Lucas, who is innocent of the crime.
When islanders came to the McCann's house, knowing Lucas was there, Lucas was told to stay with Caitlyn in hiding as Dom and John (Cait's brother and father) went to talk to the villagers. Lucas and Caitlyn, however, can see what's happening through. When Lucas saw the villagers continued to protest and threaten the McCanns, Lucas decided to take the problem in his own hands. Lucas said goodbye to Caitlyn and told her to stay in place. Even though, Caitlyn protested, she obeyed.
After a few talks with the islanders, Lucas turned around and looked at the hole where Caitlyn was peeking through and waved goodbye, and ran, the islanders chasing him. When Caitlyn saw this, she went out of hiding and ran as fast as she can just to get to Lucas. When Lucas got to the mudflats, which is very dangerous, since one wrong step can lead to death by sinking, he didn't stop while the villagers stayed in place. When Caitlyn got there she took the first step, but didn't get through all the way to Lucas, because Dom and John took a hold of her, because it was deadly, leaving Caitlyn thrashing around and shouting 'Lucas'.
Lucas, however didn't responded and just stepped in one of the mudflats and sunk, leaving Caitlyn.
Caitlyn, depressed, didn't talk as much and ate as much for days. People visited her like Simon and Bill, though she was still as glum and didn't mind them much. The police officer came and gave them Lucas' things and his notebook, he said that everything was clear because of it and lucas' bad reputation was recovered.
Caitlyn 'Cait' McCann: Is the fifteen-year-old heroine of Lucas. Cait is a strong willed teenager, who feels alone on the island - her best friend is growing up in the wrong crowd and she does not want to be a part of their toxic behavior. Although she runs environmental charity stalls she is not as interested in that as she appears - she wants life to be simpler with the friends she used to have and that is why she is attracted to Lucas; he is a simple, untainted outsider who has a both pure and animalistic instinct setting him apart from everyone she knows. She tells the story a year after the events occurred because her father, a writer, told her to "cry herself a story", and understand what happened better.
Lucas: The seventeen-year-old title character. Lucas tells Cait that his mother gave birth to him when she was young and Lucas had later left home for mysterious reasons, traveling from town to town. However, we never find out his full, true story and he remains a mysterious character which is part of his persona. He is a soft spoken character with the potential for danger.
Bill Grey: Bill is Cait's old best friend. Cait misses the 'old' Bill who used to enjoy trips to the library and looked at the world innocently. Their friendship falls apart when they begin to discover the world in different ways; whilst Cait tries to live her life quietly Bill craves attention and sex, alcohol and everything she believes will make her more 'grown-up' and in fact makes her more childish.
Dominic "Dom" McCann: Dom is Cait's older brother who returns from university. At first he is involved in drugs and the island's party scene, but comes to his senses when he realizes how dangerous it is, via Cait.
John McCann: John is Cait's father. He is an author of Young Adult fiction, is Irish and an alcoholic, due to the death of Cait's mother years before. He is in his early forties and supports Cait unconditionally.
Jamie Tait: Jamie Tait is the son of a powerful man in town. Although he is engaged to the daughter of the police captain, he is a sexual predator who threatens Cait on multiple occasions. He is extremely prejudiced against Lucas and like all prejudices it stems from his fear of Lucas, the threat of Lucas being so attractive and such an unknown quantity.
Angel Dean: Angel is the teen friend and sort-of mistress of Jamie, and Bill's 'idol'. She has a wild reputation for making bad choices and being promiscuous but underneath it all is just as lost, confused and lonely as Cait
Simon: An unsure-of-self boy who works with Cait on projects. Simon has a crush on Cait and Dominic uses this to taunt Cait before Dominic changed.
The book also won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.
Kevin Brooks deals with a variety of different themes and main ideas in Lucas. Most notably, he expresses the theme of coming of age through Cait's narration. She changes a great deal throughout the novel and there are many references to her being both "an adult" and "a child," referring to her changing personality. More than just coming of age though, Cait seems to develop a better self awareness.
Other themes include how discrimination and distrust of strangers (xenophobia) can have drastically strong influences and that redemption is always possible for those who look for it. In addition, Brooks explores how just one person (both Jamie and Lucas) can have a massively large impact on small communities.
- Jones, Nicolette (26 January 2003). "Children's book of the week: Brooks". The Sunday Times. London. p. 46.