by Chris Lynch is a confusing book about a confused young man. It deals with
the long-term emotional impact of the death of a teens parents and how the
death/suicide of his classmates provoke a crisis as he tries to cope with his
by Chris Lynch is set in some unknown American town. Seventeen-year old Will has been placed in a special school for
young people in some form of crisis. In this school, he has been placed in a
vocational therapy woodworking class. Even though he is a gifted woodworker,
Will continues to insist that he is not supposed to be in woodworking, but in
an aviation program, because he is destine to be a pilot. Recently, Wills
projects have moved from ugly garden gnomes, whirligigs, and useful furniture
to odd-looking totem poles. This greatly displeases Mr. Jacks, his shop
teacher/counselor, who feels there is more of a market for lawn ornaments. When
his poles begin disappearing and showing up at the memorials for young people
who have died under suspicious conditions, and then at site where young people
later die, Will begins to feel responsible for their deaths, but is uncertain
how he is involved.
is told through the inner dialog within Wills head. This offers a confusing
and slanted view of events. Will is quite confused about his life and perhaps
his thinking is further clouded by his meds.
Viewed from this perspective it leaves the reader questioning the
reality that Wills presents as his viewpoint. While such a limiting
perspective may prove to be interesting in a sane, dare I say norm character,
sorting through Wills confused, often paranoid viewpoint to try to view what
might be reality is not only difficult, it is impossible. It is often hard to
follow how and why he arrives at the conclusions he does since his leaps of
logic are not logical. His inner voice is often sheer irrationality. I suspect
that I might have accepted some of the irrational patter if there was some
other balancing voice to explain the events of the novel. I also was very
frustrated by the conclusion of the book that shed no light on Wills situation
or the deaths of his classmates.
There are a number of interesting
characters in this novel. Angela is Wills classmate. She is a strong and
dynamic character, but filtered through Wills mind her motives become random
and rather hazy. Mr. Jacks is Wills shop teacher. He is the stereotypical bad
teacher who is more interested in himself than his students, but that IS Wills
take on him. Wills grandparents, Gran and Pops, are very realistic. I find it
interesting that they are presented so well through Wills filtration system.
Chris Lynch is the author of many
award winning young adult novels. His young adult novels include, Iceman (1994); Shadow Boxer (1995); Slot
Machine (1995); Extreme Elvin
(1999) the sequel to Slot Machine; Whitechurch (1999); Gold Dust (2000); and Freewill
(2001). Freewill is one of the Michael L. Printz Honor Books for 2002.
is a very confusing book. I am not sure that I would recommend it to a young
person. If the young person would like a challenge, working through Wills
psychobabble to decipher the truth is definitely a challenge. If, however, the
young person is not into being challenged, s/he will put this book down very
quickly and condemn it as confusing and not worth the effort. I wish I could
say hold out to the end and everything will become crystal clear, but
unfortunately, in the case of this book, I cannot say that. I give this author
an A for creativity, but a rewrite for readability.
© 2002 Su Terry
Su Terry: Education:
B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from
Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral
Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual
Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the
United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at
Dowling College, Long Island, NY.
Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between
psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the
impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.