This is a difficult book for a reader. Fletcher has a clean, clear voice for the narrator and for Cara, mother of an autistic child who is found in the woods near the dead body of a retarded girl. But her other voices are unconvincing; they all sound so off that it's hard to distinguish autistic children and adults from those who aren't. Morgan, the boy who solves the murder, sounds like a deranged adult, while young Chris, who lures a teen bully into the woods, sounds like a peculiar man uttering short, jerky words and phrases. Although wrapped like a mystery, this is really a book about autism, about the numerous forms it can take, about parents who do or don't devote themselves to understanding and helping their children. All of this is genuinely interesting, but as a novel it's contrived. The children's interior monologues give the reader a glimpse into their thought processes, but are so detailed they don't ring true. (One child distinguishes between ""mean"" and ""cruel"" behavior-verbal vs. physical abuse.) The mystery is less compelling than the author's valuable insights into our ""compassion, disdain, terror and pity"" for these youngsters.
Reviewed on: 05/29/2006 Release date: 05/01/2006 Genre: Fiction