The Mostly True Story of Jack By Kelly Barnhill

Wendy liked the Fitzpatrick house – its shelves crammed tightly with books, its strange pictures on the wall. Most of all, though, she likes learning things that the other kids in town didn’t know.  She learned, for example, that her brother wasn’t the first kid in town to go missing. She learned that people once relied on rawhide – wrapped around wrist or tied around necks or slipped into the sole of a shoe – as protection from…someone. A Lady, the book said.  She learned that both souls and memories are slippery, fragile things, and easily snatched if a person isn’t careful.  Though she knew it couldn’t be true – not really – she wore a thin rawhide bracelet on her left wrist every day, and encouraged her brother to do the same. Just as superstition, but still.  It’s not like a person can grow a new soul.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Mostly True Story Of Jack by Kelly Barnhill is what I would consider to be a deeply unsettling book, especially for the younger generation. Now, being unsettled isn’t bad.

Jack knows, sort of, that his situation is peculiar, but he has never wanted to think about it too deeply.  He is so unnoticeable that he’s never had to pay for a bus or train ride in his life.  His own parents and brother don’t seem to notice him, and there is not a single photo of him anywhere.  But when his mother abruptly drops him off at her sister’s house in a tiny town in Iowa, Jack learns – slowly and frustratingly – that there is a magical power here in Hazelwood that has been stealing children.  The richest man in town is somehow connected.  And so is Jack.

This is a deliciously creepy story, filled with the smells of dirt and electrical storms,stifling heat or eerie cold, and pulsing with energy both good and bad.  The power manifests in simple but extremely creepy ways – one building radiates such ominous hostility that it seems right out of a Stephen King novel.

Luckily, Jack’s solidity keeps the story grounded, even as he turns out to be one of the most exotic things about it, and his friends Anders, Wendy, and the tragic Frankie all play their own vital and unique parts in uncovering the secrets of Hazelwood in order to heal it.

Great read, full of mystery and magic! 🙂

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