It was well written, with the exception of a few mistakes – which we all make. It’s not as easy as one would think to catch every incorrect period, comma, colon . . . although, it is always a good idea to be as thorough as possible because there is going to be that one reader who calls you on it because it can affect the flow. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often in this story, but it does happen. For example:
* “…help.” I said. (“…help,” I said.)
* “…he is not,” she said. “But…” (“…he is not,” she said, “but…”)
The correction is in parentheses. It’s obvious that these, and others, were oversights because it isn’t prevalent. There were a few other minor errors in mechanics, but this does not detract from the story because the writing is well written: flowing, descriptive, and nearly flawless. As with the mistakes in punctuation dotted throughout, there are a few moments when tense shifts make it difficult to keep up with the intended timeline. When a writer inadvertently speaks in the present and then shifts to past tense writing, it can make the flow stop and the reader must return and re-read the passage to catch its meaning. Again, this story is well written, but there were a few times when I needed to re-read the passage in order to pick up the flow of the story again.
I read a few of the other reviews written related to this book – which I don’t usually do. There were those that expressed confusion over the opening chapter of the book. I must say I didn’t experience this. I knew from the onset to whom the teenager was speaking in the Prologue. The only thing that I found detracting was the opening of some of the chapters. For example, Chapter One. I understand the purpose of the scene described; however, it isn’t until several paragraphs later that the connection is drawn and then even more reading before that connection is certain. It isn’t poorly constructed and is well written, just took longer than needs be for this reader to connect the events presented.
As the story progressed, I found it to be a bit drawn out and repetitive. I got the sense, however, that the authors' intent was to saturate the reader with imagery in order to create a better understanding of Andrew’s condition, his relationship with Michael, etc. At times, however, it got so bogged down in the imagery that my mind would drift instead of staying with the story. Moreover, there are many moments in the story where the narrator (or author) feels a need to explain, pontificate, or interject some point he/she finds pertinent. Admittedly, I didn’t find this useful for anything other than giving the reader a break from the pervasive melancholy.
As for the dialogue, it was often stilted. As with editing a work, writing dialogue is not as easy as one may think, so I won’t criticize the authors’ efforts overly much. Many times, writers will simply write words thinking that’s the way people would communicate in that circumstance. To those writers I’d say, try desperately to place yourself in the shoes of your characters. Immerse yourself in their lives. Stand in your characters’ places and enact the scene within your head, over and over, until you are those characters. Then write the dialogue in all its choppy, distracted glory. That will bring a realism to your writing that your readers will appreciate. Here’s why I interjected that lecture.
Again, without giving away too much of the plot – Andrew is now six years of age. He meets up with Michael again (same or similar age). I’ve written the dialogue here only:
“Mom named me after some old artist guy,” Michael said with aplomb, “but you… You can call me Michael.”
Okay – NO! I’ve raised four children and own a daycare business, and I’m telling you right now, that as articulate as some six-year-olds are, this type of dialogue has never occurred in all my years of rearing and caring for children. Writing child speak is even harder than writing adult speak, but at least it’s easier to plant yourself in adult shoes to imagine a conversation than a child’s. It threw me off completely, because I would just sit and shake my head at that point. There were many times with the dialogue that I was thrown off like this.
By Chapter Four, Andrew’s life is impacted in ways that I doubt many people in reality would experience. Not that it’s unprecedented. There may be people who, before they are teenagers suffer loss on a monumental scale, as in Andrew’s case.
In Chapter Four, we’re introduced to two Irish brothers, whose lives are affected by loss early in their childhoods also and who first come across Andrew at the cemetery. From there, Andrew is mentioned occasionally as we delve into the lives of Kiernan and Casey and we’re given more hints as to gifts in common with Andrew. We also get a taste of a secret that Kiernan is trying desperately not to reveal. Kiernan is a teenager, but it isn’t until into Chapter Five that I realize that Andrew is a teenager at this point too. The authors may have revealed the advancement in years and I may have overlooked it. I did scroll back again in attempt to find where Andrew was no longer a little boy, but I still missed it, so as I read on, I found myself viewing Kiernan in a not-so-favorable light – until I realized they were in high school together.
From there the aggression and depressive state gets really thick, and it was nearly palpable to that point. Tragedy compounds until the story comes full circle, returning to where it began – at the funeral.
In essence, the story, though attempting to add an element of the paranormal by introducing an ability to see and speak to spirits, is really an exploration into the uncertainties, mysteries, insecurities, and acceptance of being homosexual. There are many moments when the authors' writing becomes less heavy on the imagery as the story unfolds; however, it grows more steadily didactic instead. The letter at the end is lovely, if not overly drawn out.
Overall, it is a well-recounted narrative saturated in a consuming sadness. Such a story may appeal to some, and if that is alluring to a particular demographic, they won’t be disappointed – in the drama or the writing. If, however, you prefer something with at least some light to break through the heavy veil of despair, you may want to pass this by.
Who I Am...
My name is Barbara Woster. I am an author, business owner, and an educator. Writing is my passion, but I also enjoy providing insight for aspiring authors. Additionally, I review work by other writers upon request. To have your book reviewed, simply get in touch.