Jack’s parents are getting divorced, and so Jack is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in middle-of-nowhere Iowa for the summer. At home, he’s used to being nearly invisible. He has no friends, the bullies ignore him, and there are no pictures of him at home. But in Iowa, suddenly everyone has an interest in him, magic might turn out to be a real thing, and memories of a long-forgotten past start to bubble up in Jack’s mind.
It’s been a long time since I really read any middle-grade fiction, but when I took my kids to the library two weeks ago, I saw this book and was intrigued by the cover and description. I decided to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did, because it’s a really good book! There’s a lot in it – magic, good and evil blurring along grey lines, the power of words and friendship. Multiple story threads are woven together, so that it’s hard to tell exactly where the story will go for a long time, even though there are hints from the beginning. I enjoyed the way it all came together, and how it ended.
Like most middle-grade fiction, a lot of the characterization was simpler than in books aimed for older readers, and the pacing was a little fast/abrupt. I would have loved for the book to slow down in places, so that I could really enjoy what was happening. I was pleased at the way the story elements came together slowly, but within each scene, everything happened so fast, and I felt like it could have been expanded and filled out just a little in places. I didn’t mind too much, though, because I know it was written that way on purpose, for that middle-grade audience, and I know my kids will adore this one when they read it. I’m glad I saw it on the shelf, and took a chance bringing it home!