2004 (originally publish 2001)
2002 Michael L Printz Honor Book
Will knows he is meant to be a pilot. But instead he finds himself with a bunch of kids in wood shop, in a school that's known as Hopeless High. Will doesn't know what he's doing thereor mabye he just doesn't want to admit the truth. Once upon a time he made beautiful things like gnomes, whirligigs, and furniture. Now he's driven to create strange wooden totemsand he doesn't know why.
No one knows why local teens are committing suicide, either, one after the other. The deaths all have one thing in common: beautifully carved wooden tributes that appear just afteror just beforethe bodies are found. Will's afraid he knows who's responsible for the deaths. And lurking just behind that knowledge is another secret, one so explosive that he might not be able to face it and survive...
Part thriller, part mystery, Chris Lynch's newest book is a rollercoaster ride through a passionate young man's psycheand an unforgettable emotional journey through grief, guilt, and hope from a writer at the height of his powers.
Written in second person (you walk to the door, you pick up the phone, you can’t sleep, you have to concentrate really hard to keep everything straight….), about a young man who is what I would call an unreliable narrator, except you aren’t really sure if HE is the narrator, or it’s someone else, or perhaps he has a personality disorder? and the voices in his head are talking to him (you?) — needless to say, this book is complicated. This is not a book that very many people are going to love or even like, and a short trip through the notes of other readers on Goodreads confirm that.
I think readers who say it’s a terrible book and shouldn’t have won any awards have probably missed the point. (I’m not saying it’s a great book, and even several days later, as I have let this settle, I’m not sure if I’m going to give it an actual rating, or if I’m going to just let it go.) This was a book that required concentration, and I think it was meant to be extremely unsettling. I think you are meant to walk away wondering what the heck just happened? And is this kid going to be OK? And even more troubling: how many kids and adults are wandering through our world feeling like this on the inside?
Even the readers that rated this highly on Goodreads seem somewhat conflicted by that response. I’m not sure I would go so far as to actually recommend this one to somebody, but I think I would like to talk to someone else that’s read it, to see what they think. Any takers?