A coming-of-age novel about a boy navigating childhood as his family is torn apart.
The story opens with the imminent death of Will’s mother. Beckoned by one of his three sisters, Will travels from San Diego to Massachusetts for the final moments of his mother’s life. With the arrival of his other sisters and their respective spouses, the siblings are once again reunited. It’s through this reunion that Will looks back to their difficult, tumultuous childhood filled with their parents’ violent fights and seemingly endless flights between Venezuela and New York. Though Will is an observer on the periphery of his parents’ marriage, it isn’t difficult for him to figure out their issues and transgressions. He may not completely understand these adult matters, but he still manages to determine their core meaning. Once the divorce happens, the parents use the kids as pawns, literally kidnapping them away from each other and flying them around the globe in a hateful, self-serving game of keep-away. As a result, Will begins acting out, propelled by feelings of being an outcast. Caplan (French Pond Road, 2008) writes in an interesting style that often doesn’t rely on a connection between events. With no solid beginning or end, the prose becomes a controlled but confusing stream of consciousness, as Caplan rolls one event into another. Minimal examination of Will’s relationships, as well as the flat secondary characters—including Will’s sisters—make it clear that the story is Will’s. Readers are voyeurs on his journey, though they never really get to know him, serving instead as witnesses to his pain and struggle.
Short on insight, but an engaging story carried forward by well-written prose.