The Mostly True Story of Jack

Kelly Barnhill, Author
Kelly Barnhill. Little, Brown, $16.99 (324p) ISBN 978-0-316-05670-0
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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In her first novel, children's nonfiction author Barnhill quickly establishes a sense of foreboding in the town of Hazelwood, Iowa, as Jack—ignored by and invisible to his parents, who are divorcing—moves in with his eccentric aunt and uncle, whose house appears to be possessed. Slowly, Jack befriends some locals, including 14-year-old twins Wendy and Frankie, the latter scarred and silent years after a childhood disappearance, and the eerily psychic Anders. Jack also becomes the focus of a town bully and an evil patriarch who cultivates power through magic; tension mounts as Jack provokes the supernatural forces that cause children and buildings to disappear. Suspense builds steadily, with twists and surprises woven throughout, and friendship emerges as a powerful theme. "Given that he didn't really know what it was like to have friends, Jack didn't realize until that very moment that he missed Wendy and that he had been very lonely for the last few days." Barnhill explores the struggle between good and evil and the power of love and sacrifice, creating a provocative and highly original mystery. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
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