What would your life be like if you were totally unnoticed? If everyone’s attention just slid away from you. When even your own parents could never remember you. And how would you feel if one day, after you were shipped off to your Aunt and Uncle’s house for the summer, all of that changed. Suddenly, not only do kids your age notice you, but adults, the police, and even the HOUSE you’re living in decide you’re fascinating.
Jack, the boy who hates fairy tales, suddenly find himself in the middle of one. He doesn’t believe in magic, but strange things continue to happen. The phone won’t connect to his parents, his letters to them erase themselves, the house gets HOT when he touches anything, and everything is altogether strange.
I listened to this on a recent road trip with the kids. It kept all of us engaged for the whole (7 hour!) drive, which is saying something when we’re talking about 9 and 6 year olds. The pace moves quickly, there’s quite a bit of mystery and adventure, it’s suspenseful and even a bit scary at times. We all very much enjoyed it.
However, SPOILER ALERT, I didn’t love the ending. Didn’t hate it, but it felt a bit…harsh. Unless there’s a follow up book. Jack, having finally found friends and belonging, basically has to give up his life to save his friend and heal his mother. No other option was given, no real choices get made, and at the end, Jack is left alone able only to watch the world and his friends from within the earth. It was noble, self-sacrificing, heroic, and tragically sad for the ending of a kids book. One of the reason I like youth fiction is that even though it tackles difficult and weighty subjects, there’s typically an underlying current of hopefulness that comes through in the end. The ending here left me feeling really down and a bit bereft. I suppose that’s life, but I have to admit I’m one of those people that cries when characters die and I get really upset when books/series end and I have to leave characters that I love (which is why I re-read my favorites). I think I’ll have to give this a second read in a few months to see how I feel about the ending when I know how it will go. Sometimes I change my mind about endings like this on a second read.