by K.M. Walton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Young Adult
A gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must decide what’s more important: family or their differences.
Oscar is misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected and bullied by his family, and he seeks refuge in his art. Vance is a popular athlete and wishes his brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. Vance just wants to throw himself into partying, to live.
But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two boys must come face-to-face with their demons-and each other-if they are going to survive an uncertain future.
Ultimatum is the story of two brothers who are dealing with the impending death of their father. Oscar and Vance are complete opposites from each other. When they were little, their mother died and since them the wedge between the boys has only gotten larger. However, now that their father is on his death bed with the clock ticking away, the boys have some decisions to make, remain a family and lean on each other or go into the foster system.
When I say that these boys are complete opposites, I mean it. Oscar is the younger of the two and has always felt like the odd man out. Once his mother passed away, Oscar felt alone. Sure, he lived with his father and brother but his brother hated his guts for some reason and his father was an alcoholic. Actually the father and brother were a lot alike. They both drank, they were both out of control, and they both thought being such was “cool”. However, Oscar was the quiet type. He preferred to hang out in his room and draw instead, and he didn’t have any friends. These two brothers were so opposite and hated each other so much, that I wasn’t overly sure what was going to happen to them when the time came.
“Sometimes I wondered how we had the same parents. We were like peanut butter and onions.”
Ultimatum is told between both brothers POV and it also switches between past and present. So, we are given a look at how things came about. Vance’s POV is told in the past and Oscar’s is told in the present. In all honesty, I was not a fan of Vance, not even at the end. He was selfish and a bully. He drinks, does drugs, and expects everyone to do what he wants and when they don’t he throws a hissy fit. What killed me was that he idolized his father, the man who cheated on his wife time and time again, who was a raging alcoholic, and who saw nothing wrong with bringing a total stranger home and banging her brains out… while the boys were home. The way Vance treated Oscar was horrible. He talked down to him, excluded him, and pretty much pushed him out of his life… and yet claimed that Oscar did it himself, that Oscar thought he was better than everyone. I just couldn’t handle Vance’s personality. I felt bad for Oscar. He watched his father spiral out of control, watched his brother follow in their father’s footsteps, and wound up finding himself as an outcast because he didn’t partake in the same things as his father and brother. Oscar was the light at the end of the tunnel for me.
“A little kid can only be scrutinized so many times by the two most important males in his life before thins register in his brain, before he stops looking for acceptance. Be he stops expecting love and happiness.”
While I couldn’t stand Vance, their story was no less captivating. The author has a way of roping you in and holding you captive with her story. I had to know what happened, both in the past and future. Why did they turn out the way they did? What would happen when their father passed away? Would the brothers ever see eye to eye? Needless to say, I wound up reading this book in a handful of hours. I sat down to read a couple of chapters and didn’t get back up until I finished the whole thing.
“Why is it that something as complex and huge as the sky can change itself every single day, yet people struggle against it so hard?”