Take Me There by Carolee Dean
I know two things about him.
He's locked away
down there in Texas,
I've heard my mother say.
She only talks about him
when she's full of wine.
His name is Dylan Dawson,
same as mine.
So reads the poem at the beginning of Take Me There by Carolee Dean (2010), a first-person YA coming-of-age book told from the male perspective.
As the story begins, Dylan is on the run with a friend after a life-altering decision. Hoping to keep them safe from someone wanting revenge on him, he leaves behind his mom and his girlfriend Jess.
Along the way, Dylan learns a great deal about what happened when he was six years old and a police officer died, leading to his father's current stay on Death Row (in Texas, no less) and upcoming execution date. He also learns about responsibility and sacrifice, and how doing what's right doesn't always mean following the trail of the facts and the truth.
While reminding me of a more modern-day The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Dean's writing is uneven enough to allow a few slow passages to occur in this novel. I also would have appreciated more time with Dylan and Jess actually together, to get a better overall impression of their supposedly wonderful romantic relationship. I didn't really feel the closeness, and this definitely doesn't qualify as a YA romance.
My overall personal rating of Take Me There is a B-.