I really liked this book up until the end. The very end almost made me give it two stars.
Before the last chapter or so, I was tempted to give it 4.5 or even 5.
Love the author's writing style and can't wait to seek out more of her stuff. The movie was actually better, which I figured because this book was so short and the movie so brilliant and in-depth. There are some differences, but the main things remain the same.
A beautiful and psychologically rich story, wonderful characterization, although McLeod seemed a bit more wooden in written form than he was on screen played well by Mel Gibson. Charles is convincing, and his dysfunctional family dynamic intriguing. Worth reading if you enjoyed the movie (or haven't seen it, whichever), although the end is souring.
Sexuality is more focused on with the book rather than the film, with an almost confusing bend. What really bugged me during the last pages is what happened to a main character.
It's like an uplifting surge of the heart through growth and recovery from the past, through friendship and understanding, to unfairness and being sold short.
As to the very end, no, I don't think he was molested.
View Spoiler for thoughts on that issue if you've read the book
I think the writer was saying he was ashamed as he had an...err, normal teenage boy reaction that embarrassed him after the trauma and then having close contact. Homophobia is a major theme in the book, starting with the mother wanting her son to avoid boarding school because the previous stepfather insists it turns boys into homosexuals. Charles later worrying about that and asking his teacher. Charles at the end of book was ashamed and didn't want to speak about what his body did, the writer delicately putting it in the only way she could as the character begins to realize he's gay. McLeod admits he is also gay but I don't see any sign they did anything. McLeod was telling him it was a natural reaction and not to worry about it "for years", which is why he wanted to talk about it then and not avoid the conversation.
“You can be free from everything but the consequences of what you do.”