By the way, even though this isn't too detailed: Is Bernard sympathetic? Would this qualify for a Young Adult novel or is it too dark? I'm not too familiar with the category but I would like to know. Anyway, thanks! I appreciate it!
Bernard Elliot is a teenager aspiring to be a great artist, he is constantly practicing his art by studying the great masters in the library's art section as well as sketching random people in order to hone his skill at human anatomy. However, Bernard also has a penchant for violence. He gets into fights rather often, earning him the nickname of 'The Brute,' at Roosevelt High school. He has learned it from his father, Richard, who used to beat him so often that scars now line his body. Now, however, Bernard's father is back in Georgia, tending to his ailing grandfather and giving up his violent ways in order to find God and reunite the family that he has hopelessly destroyed. Doing so, he has also left Bernard with his smaller brother Gabriel and their mother Vanessa to struggle in the increasingly expensive Californian suburbs.
Bernard doesn't much feel for his family, his mother is increasingly distant and his little brother seems to be too well adjusted since he has never had the misfortune to witness their father's drunken bouts of violence. So Bernard avoids both of them, seeing his little brother as the ideal but spoiled son who ideal and loved. Yet Bernard does feel a connection to his older sister, Janelle, who has run away and has fallen into a mysterious life of drugs and crime. She is where his true memories of family lie, she was always there for him, to comfort him when his father beat him to protect him even when it got so bad that she herself was hurt.
It isn't until he receives a phone call from her that he feels as if he must repay her. She is in debt from some very important people and needs help paying it off. Bernard decides he will take matters into his own hands and get her the money. Along with his two friends, he decides to rob a major drug dealer in the area, knowing where a stash of a large amount of money is hidden. However, this robbery quickly spirals out of control when Bernard's anger gets the best of him and the dealer ends up dead.
Bernard's world soon becomes a mess as his sister finally arrives but needs to be hidden from the brutal debt collectors sent after her, along with the drug dealer's cronies who are trying to find the stolen money, and so are the cops, interested in cracking down on the huge amount of drug trafficking done in their once picturesque suburb.
Bernard just needs to make sure no one finds the drug dealer's corpse. That's where all the clues lie. He has him neatly tucked away somewhere, someplace dry and with good lighting and ventilation. Despite the violence and the drugs and the family problems, Bernard knows of only one thing he wants for himself, to become a capable artist. And, human anatomy is an important aspect of that... after all, how many great masters used to draw and dissect cadavers?