The Mostly True Story of Jack, by Kelly Barnhill
When Jack's parents decide to get divorced, they send him to Hazelwood, Iowa for the summer to live with his eccentric aunt and uncle. All of a sudden Jack, who has always felt invisible, realizes everyone is watching him. Even the creaky house where his aunt and uncle live seems to respond to his touch. He makes friends for the first time, attracts the attention of the richest man in town and his assistant, who seem to have it out for him, as well as the town bully.
But Hazelwood is not your regular town. There is a history of children mysteriously disappearing, and once they're gone, no one seems to remember they ever existed. The only child ever to be found was Frankie, who never talks and has mysterious scars. The ground seems to know him. Jack's uncle keeps trying to make him read a book that gets more and more bizarre about the history of Hazelwood. And unbenownst to Jack, everyone has been anticipating his return to a town he doesn't remember.
The story unfolds at a perfectly timed pace, as questions build and answers gradually tumble forth. Why can't Jack's parents seem to remember him the second he is out of their sight? Why does everyone in Hazelwood seem to know him? Why does the richest man in town want him dead? What is happening to the children of Hazelwood? And who is Jack, really?
This rich, literary tale is a perfect blend of mystery, magic and adventure. Barnhill sets the stage for intrigue from the get-go, using the perspectives of different characters to build the anticipation to Jack's arrival. Jack himself undergoes dramatic character development during the course of the story, from starting out as an ignored, disgruntled boy who is frustrated at being sent to live with relatives in the middle of nowhere, to fitting in and making friends, to an eventual conclusion as the pieces of his life fall gradually fall into place, along with his path for the future. Exciting, intriguing, and at times, downright creepy (think aspects of Neil Gaiman's Coraline), this tale is sure to please all types of readers!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
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