cover image Freewill


Chris Lynch / Author HarperCollins $15.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06

Despite the redemptive themes suggested by its title and its division into three sections expansively entitled ""Faith,"" ""Hope"" and ""Charity,"" Lynch's (Whitechurch) latest novel focuses on the dark and murky corners of its main character's psyche. Unraveling as an interior monologue in which 17-year-old Will refers to himself as ""you,"" the narrative cryptically sets forth this teen's plight. Against his will, the tellingly named protagonist has been enrolled in a woodworking program at some kind of vocational high school populated with lost souls. He lives with his grandparents because, as the boy discloses midway through the story, ""My dad drove off the road.... Into the water. With my stepmother."" Water plays a chilling role in the morbid goings-on, which include the mysterious drownings or suicides of several teens; with each death, one of Will's wood sculptures is found near the site. Will says he is responsible, but is he indeed a murderer or even a ""carrier pigeon of death""? Clarification comes slowly and obtrusively via advice from Will's grandfather and encounters with two of Will's troubled classmates, all of whom fit familiar stereotypes. Filled with such self-addressed comments as ""She doesn't understand you. Nobody understands you,"" this airless novel does not reward the effort required to penetrate it. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)