Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

In this fantasy/creation story/mystery (pick your genre), Kelly Barnhill unravels a compelling story about Jack, who is sent to stay with his Aunt and Uncle in a house that literally moves, because his parents are getting a divorce. Jack makes friends with Wendy, Anders, and Frankie as the four try to uncover the mystery of why children are disappearing in their town called, Hazelwood, Iowa.

This story is well-written, creepy, weird, fun, and abstract. By abstract, I mean it deals with the spiritual realm of souls and good and evil in one person that separates into two beings. The book reminded me of the picture book, Zen Ghosts, by Jon Muth which is about a woman whose soul separates into two beings. In Zen Buddhism it is called a koan which means the reader can't intellectualize the story and come up with a logical conclusion. The book also reminds me of creation stories that involve Mother Earth. Some might not like the bittersweet ending. It isn't happy; however, it does have hope.

Some minor things were I didn't think the characters developed enough in their friendships to warrant the actions at the end. It seemed somewhat rushed and inauthentic. It seemed out of character that Jack kissed Wendy. I didn't think they were that close. Maybe if they hugged it wouldn't have stood out. It did seem authentic that Frankie wanted to rescue his sister. Maybe the problem was there were so many characters, Jack got a little lost in the shuffle. Plus, Wendy steals the show from Jack. She's fast-talking, fast-swinging, and strong-willed ... an absolute riot. An interesting and creative book.

Reading Level 5.5

:-) :-) :-) 3.75 out of 5 Smileys

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