I was really excited about this novel, I mean really excited and I think I would have liked it more had the author not broken up the text so often between the present and the past. The novel switches between the years 1986 and 2016 sporadically, as the characters were teenagers and then as they are middle age. Not every book thrives on having the two sides narrated this way and I feel this novel suffered because of it.
I liked the story that was set in 1986 when Eddie and his “gang” were teens and life was easy. This summer would be their first experience attending the midway by themselves and they were ready. They were having a fantastic time at the fair when suddenly Eddie realized that he had lost his wallet. He told the others to continue on without him while he backtracked his steps. He soon found himself beside Mr. Halloran, the new schoolteacher and in front of one of the rides, The Waltzer. This afternoon’s events would mark the beginning of a chain-of-events that would grip the teens lives in the years to come.
Moments later, blood and destruction laid all around Eddie as he tried to come to grips as to what exactly transpired. So much for relaxing as screaming and chaos overtakes the scene. I was creeped out by Mr. Halloran the minute Eddie set eyes on him by the ride. His mannerism, the way he held himself, and what he said didn’t settle right with me. I found myself reading slowly any passage that mentioned his name. Maybe he was just a loner, maybe he was just odd or perhaps there was nothing wrong with him but I just thought there was, nevertheless he rubbed me the wrong way.
It was an extraordinary summer, the summer of 1986, as the teens also uncover a body in the forest. They soon realized this just wasn’t an ordinary body but one that held a unique story. The teens had been using chalk to communicate with each other, they had created their own secret language and now this chalk helped lead them to the body.
Fast forward to 2016 and the teens are in their early forties. The summer of 1986 has never really gone away and now, someone is bringing it back to life. I liked how we learn more information about the past and individual’s true colors were shining through. It’s funny how some individuals never change and how some people think they have changed but they haven’t. I enjoyed the novel but I feel that I missed out on some of the excitement.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing me a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.