Wednesday, March 9, 2016


It’s hot in Baton Rouge, really hot, but we can’t blame the heat for all of the troubling events in a posh neighborhood and private school, where all the kids have just witnessed the Challenger disaster on TV.  As a teenager, our unnamed narrator is a person of interest in the rape of his friend and neighbor, Lindy Simpson.  At that time, he implies that he does not even know what rape is.  As the book goes on, we find that his adoration of Lindy is more of a freaky, warped obsession, and we begin to have doubts about his credibility.  The case goes cold, despite the existence of several other possible suspects:  a very scary psychiatrist, his unbalanced adopted son, and a hare-lipped teenager with a mean streak.  The narrator takes us on a journey for both Lindy and himself, and their journeys are weirdly parallel, as our narrator takes on the persona of whatever type of guy he thinks Lindy might appreciate and spies on her to boot.  Lindy appears to shake off the horrifying event, until the narrator makes a verbal gaffe that changes everything, especially his relationship with Lindy.  Then a tragedy occurs in his own family, and he cannot muster the grief that the event warrants, giving us further cause to doubt his innocence.  This second tragedy left me with some unanswered questions, but the author does at least give us closure in Lindy’s case.  Our narrator recounts lots of serious blunders on his treacherous path to adulthood, some of which may even cause his mother to wonder if she’s harboring a criminal.  Meanwhile, his absent dad, whose parental judgment is extremely off-kilter, is cohabiting with a coed, and I even put him on my list of suspects.  Anyway, this is much more than a whodunit with an unreliable narrator.  It’s a coming-of-age story, a family story, and an unrequited love story—if you want to call the narrator’s creepy fixation “love.”

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