Failure and redemption, flight and responsibility: at fifteen years old.
As always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Albers' story slightly reminds me of Mark Twain's short masterpiece, The Mysterious Stranger. While entirely different, Albers has used Twain's device of an out-of-your-world visitor to question assumptions and change behaviours and beliefs. Unlike Twain's mocking `Satan', Albers' stranger is gentle and sympathetic, and perhaps a trace deranged himself. Unlike Twain's naive youths, Albers' protagonist is in deep loss and in serious personal depression.
The story is about the resolution of that depression, about choosing a way forward.
There is social commentary, as in: `I feel faith tends to allow people to condemn quicker than those who use logic.' There is loneliness of an adolescent abandoned by pretty much everyone: `I don't have a whole lot left for myself, and so I am determined to not be like them.' There is questioning of God, high school bullies, and heaven. There are no pat answers accepted here.
If you're waiting for the tiny carps, here they are. There is a lot of head-time in the mind of the chief protagonist, a fifteen year old with a deceased mother and collapsing father. In the opinion of this reviewer, one or two of these passages might be more effectively delivered if shorter and more to the point. Small carps in an unusual work.
Why four stars? My personal guidelines, when doing an `official' KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable.
The scene at the train track is magnificently done. I found the ending to be extremely satisfying. I think the average reader will come away from this book feeling it deserves four stars. It may shift your beliefs a bit as well.
Jim Bennett, Kindle Book Review Team member.