Feeling increasingly isolated from the world, 16-year-old Declan Lynch falls for a girl whose voice he hears in his mind.
From a young age, Declan has heard voices in his head. Though his New Age–y mother tries to help him manage his situation, Declan constantly clashes with his science-driven (and extremely hostile) father because of it. The actual story kicks off when Declan begins to hear the voice of a girl named Rebecca. As she shows him visions of unfamiliar landscapes and people, Declan retreats further inward, fearing that their connection is weakening and thus becoming determined to meet the mysterious girl. Soon he flies to Ireland for answers and reconnects with his offbeat uncle Seamus. Choyce devotes much of the novel’s first half to defining Declan’s Irish roots, contrasting Declan’s immigrant father’s distaste for his homeland with Declan’s journey of self-discovery in Ireland. Declan scours the Irish seaside in hopes of finding a “thin place,” a sacred spot where the physical and spiritual worlds meet. Once he does find it—and Rebecca—the story takes a bizarre turn, ending on a beautifully melancholic note. However, occasionally stilted language pops in throughout the story to break the lyrical rhythm of the free-verse text. The romance element builds at an unbelievable pace, and the rather odd characterizations of mental health seem misplaced. More baffling still is the author’s choice to use the specter of a school shooting as a plot device to get Declan to Ireland.
Poignant at times but ultimately a frustrating read. (Verse fiction. 14-18)