Title: Ten After Closing by Jessica Bayliss
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Young Adult, Suspense
Length: 328 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
10PM: Closing time at Café Flores. The door should be locked, but it isn’t, Scott Bradley and Winsome Sommervil are about to become hostages.
TEN MINUTES BEFORE CLOSING: Scott’s girlfriend breaks up with him in the café’s basement storeroom because he’s late picking her up for the big end-of-the-year party. Now he can’t go to the party, but he can’t go home, either–not knowing his dad will still be in a drunken rage. Meanwhile, Winny wanted one night to let loose, away from her mother’s crushing expectations. Instead, she’s stranded at the café after her best friend ditches her in a misguided attempt at matchmaking.
TEN MINUTES AFTER CLOSING: The first gunshot is fired. Someone’s dead. And if Winny, Scott, and the rest of the hostages don’t come up with a plan soon, they may not live to see morning.
Told from both Winny and Scott’s perspectives, and alternating between the events leading up to and following the hold-up, Ten After Closing is an explosive story of teens wrestling with their own challenges, thrown into circumstances that will test their very limits.
Written from the main characters’ perspectives and weaving back and forth between two timelines, Ten After Closing by Jessica Bayliss is a suspenseful young adult novel.
Ten minutes after closing, the Flores Cafe should be empty of customers with owners Sylvie and Oscar on the premises to close for the night. Scott Bradley is not even supposed to be working, but he agreed to cover a co-worker’s shift. His friend, Winsome “Winny” Sommervil has dropped by the cafe to chat with him. Two regular customers are still in the cafe when three armed men, which includes Sylvie’s brother Ryan, stop in with the intention of robbing the coffee shop. Within minutes, one of the customers is dead, Oscar has been shot and the rest of the group are now hostages. With the situation growing more frantic with each passing moment, will the captives figure out a way to escape from their captors?
The alternating chapters move backward in time and detail the events of the day from Winny and Scott’s points of view. This snapshot of their lives provides insight into their home life and struggles they are facing as they try to figure out their respective futures. Winny’s parents are Haitian immigrants who have strong ideas about what path their daughter should take. While at one point Winny shared their plan for her future, she now realizes that she wants a different career. Scott, on the other hand, has quite a few college options but he is torn between which offer he should accept. He is also undecided about a decision he needs to make about a situation at home.
In the present, Ryan and his cohorts make a discovery that ratchets up the tension as they try to figure out how to fix the quandary they are in. Realizing they have few options, they make a fateful decision to go in with guns blazing but they will need the co-operation of their hostages to succeed. In the meantime, Scott, Oscar, Sylvie and Winny are desperately trying to come up with a plan to rescue themselves but will they devise a way to outwit their dangerous captors?
Although the premise of Ten After Closing is unique, the pacing is slow and the storyline is a bit unrealistic. Winny and Scott are interesting characters and their backward moving timelines take some getting used to but overall, this form of storytelling works well. Sylvie and Ryan clearly have a complicated past but the lack of a detailed backstory is frustrating. The resolution of the hostage situation is action-packed and exciting, but Scott’s decision regarding his home life misses the mark in a huge way. Since this is a young adult novel, it would have been preferable for Jessica Bayliss to use his story arc as a teaching moment to any teenager who might be faced with a similar situation.