In the final volume of a trilogy connected by theme, structural innovation, and exquisite visual storytelling, Selznick challenges readers to see.
Starting in 1766, the first portion unfolds in nearly 400 pages of pictures, rendered in pencil. A ship in shadows, a luminous angel, an abandoned baby in a basket—these are among the phenomena affecting five generations of London actors. Disguises and surprises reveal that what one sees is not always what is true. Fast-forwarding to the 1990s, the author describes in prose a runaway who peers longingly into a candlelit dwelling. Joseph is searching for an uncle and something more elusive—family. Observant readers will recall this recently viewed address. Inspired by the actual Dennis Severs’ House (where scent, sound, setting, and the motto “You either see it or you don’t” transport visitors to 18th-century London), Selznick provides a sensory equivalent throughout his eloquent and provocative text. The poetry of Yeats and references to The Winter’s Tale add luster. Carefully crafted chapters pose puzzles and connect to the prior visual narrative. In poignant scenes, the teen learns about his uncle’s beloved, lost to AIDS but present through the truths of the home’s staged stories. A powerful visual epilogue weaves threads from both sections, and the final spread presents a heartening awakening to sight.
Time, grief, forgiveness, and love intersect in epic theater celebrating mysteries of the heart and spirit. (notes) (Fiction. 10 & up)