Christopher’s life is too small. His clothes are too small, the boat he lives on with his father and brother is too small, and his sleeping quarters are definitely too small. The walls are closing in on him and he has no idea what to do about it. On the verge of his 19th birthday, Christopher has lived his life traveling on his father’s boat and the only friend he has is his brother. He is devoted to his brother. Their mother left without a word when Christopher was a child and his life has been so incredibly sheltered. Christopher is restless, but he cannot even name what he is longing for. When the family suddenly settles in a small town, life accelerates and life changes.
When Christopher meets Malachi at a gypsy camp, he is completely captivated by the slightly older man. Although Malachi spends a good portion of his time drinking, it’s his guitar playing that is hauntingly familiar to Christopher. Christopher can sense Malachi’s interest, but the man tries to keep his distance. Malachi has secrets. Secrets that have tormented him for years. The only way to let Christopher in is to tell him his secrets. But those secrets could possibly destroy the last rays of Christopher’s innocence.
While Christopher owns this story, the prose that author Suki Fleet weaves into this story is its own character and the foundation for the entire book. The writing flows from one breath to the other with a lyrical and descriptive coming of age tale and when you open this book, you are immediately transported into Christopher’s world. To start with Christopher, he lives in a lonely and sheltered place. He exists on his father’s boat, never asking questions, coasting along, and taking care of his younger brother. The nurturing relationship between the two brothers is at times the driving force of the story, but it is not the end all focus. Christopher sees the brightness in others which draws people to his overall innocent nature. But, due to Christopher’s upbringing, he is left completely unprepared for the outside world and while terrible things happen around him, Fleet has a way of blurring the edges to slightly soften the blow. The writing is at times eerily quiet and other times, as Christopher spirals out of control and fractures, shatters, and falls apart, he remains so very clearly drawn.
The story also hinges on Christopher’s relationship with Malachi. There is a steady pace with a few subtle observations thrown in along the way to expose their connection. And, while there is support for each other, the characters are forced to go it alone at times to dip deep to get a footing on figuring things out for themselves, so they may then attempt to figure out their relationship together.
This could be the area that I could say that I would have liked for Christopher and his father to have a more in depth conversation toward the end. Or, this could be the place that I could comment that Malachi was also known as Kai and the use of the two names was never explained. Or, I should comment on the times throughout the book that Kai was transposed to Kia in error. But, this isn’t the book that I am going to analyze in pieces as my thought is that it deserves to remain fully intact as the story that the author intended. I am also going to take a step back and say that the overall tone and style of this book may not be for every reader, but, I sincerely would like to see this book, a coming of age journey for an innocent boy struggling with the less than innocent life around him, find its audience.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.