UNFOLDING by Jonathan Friesen


Age Range: 13 - 18
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An awkward 18-year-old and his enigmatic crush discover that their town hides a terrible secret.

Gullary, Oklahoma, a former mining town that is now dominated by a maximum security prison and ruled by a group of vigilantes called the Circle, has always been prone to violent storms. White narrator Jonah, afflicted with scoliosis and epilepsy (aka "Old Rickety"), is more preoccupied with Stormi, a "free and wild" spirit with a healing touch and psychic powers, than storms. Wandering in and out of occasionally florid flashbacks peppered with fake Latin, self-deprecating humor, and self-pity, Jonah recounts the awkward evolution of his friendship with Stormi and his misadventures with Old Rickety and his twisted spine. When Stormi predicts a tragic accident and comes under the Circle's suspicion, she and Jonah flee Gullary, learning its dark secret along the way. Someone—or something—wants justice, and they're its instruments. Several plot points pass in a whirlwind of explanations, losing some emotional impact. Tired tropes, such as epilepsy as a harbinger of evil spirits, abound. However, when the dust settles, some strong character development remains. The biblical, ominous atmosphere of Gullary provides a vivid backdrop for Jonah's and Stormi's feelings of longing and alienation, which are further explored through occasionally poignant banter and conflicted family relationships. The almost-romance is engaging.

A flawed but darkly atmospheric read. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-310-74833-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Blink
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2016


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