The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

How do I review one of my favorite books? I have been putting this off for almost a year now but I think I am ready…

Dill lives in a small town in an infamous family of religious snake handlers and has a preacher father who was sent to prison. He is ostracized and bullied at his school and at home, he is blamed for his father’s imprisonment since Dill would not lie for his father. His only solace is his music and best friends, Travis and Lydia. Travis lives with an abusive dad and as an escape, re-reads his favorite fanasty book series over and over and goes on online forums to talk about this fanasty series with other fans. Lydia is a smart, popular fashion blogger who is extremely unpopular at her high school since she is seen as weird and as thinking or acting like she is better than everyone. In their senior year of high school, everything is bittersweet since they know everything will change after high school– Lydia is getting out of town and going to college and Dill and Travis are stuck in town due to their poverty and duty to family that Lydia (daughter of a dentist) does not fully see and understand. And Dill is conflicted about telling Lydia he is in love with her and guilty that telling Lydia the truth may guilt her into staying or have Lydia pressuring Dill to leave when he feels he needs to stay to help get his family out of debt due to his father’s imprisonment. When tragedy strikes his life, Dill has to deal with his life changing sooner and more unexpectly than he was ready for, forcing him to make decisions that he really does not want to make. Will there ever be a happy ending for a Dill?

I don’t know how to express how much I loved this book and why without giving spoilers, which I do not do in my reviews. This book deeply moved me, from the nostalgic feel the author created to the witty characters and their banter that made you love them to the tragedy that befell them and how they handled (or in some cases, didn’t handle it). I wish this book was written when I was still in high school because I feel like it healed me in a way, like balm for my soul. I cannot recommend highly enough.

I gave this 5 out of 5 on Goodreads.

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