In the excellent Freaks and Geeks
, there is a scene were Bill Haverchuck is sitting on the couch watching TV. Dallas
is on, and Bill, wrapped up in the story line, says out loud to the TV, "Don't do it, JR, it's a trap!"
That's pretty much how I felt while reading this book--this marvelous, amazing, charming book. The protagonist, Jacob, is a mostly friendless 16 year old who comes to find out his grandfather's stories of the children's home he grew up in filled with kids who have extraordinary powers are actually more than just stories. After finding his grandfather fatally wounded in the woods behind the house, Jacob tried to make sense of his grandfather's dying words, and in putting the pieces together he ends up somewhere truly extraordinary, and finds out that he belongs there more than he could have imagined. Yet he also is oblivious to the horrors that are following him, and ignores not just one but several menacing occurrences. This is where, as a reader, I was the most frustrated; Jacob, who knew the horror that killed his grandfather, blithely disregards events that end up endangering the other children he has come to know and love. It was all a trap, and my knowing it and dreading the inevitable didn't change Jacob's actions one bit.
But, perhaps I am being awfully hard on a young man of only 16 who finds himself in an unbelievable situation, and regardless his blunders, he is still a hero in the end, fighting to right his wrongs and protect those around him. And it doesn't detract from the book, which is still endlessly charming, a strange amalgam of photographs that shed light on the text, creating a beautiful tapestry of fictional possibilities.