If you’re looking for a writer whose work typifies the phrase, “Leave space for the reader to inhabit,” Hainsworth is your girl.
It’s difficult for me to allow myself the luxury of reading for long, long stretches, but once I slipped into this book, it was difficult to escape. The prose of this YA novel is so eloquently written, each detail so carefully selected as to–at times–be almost sparse, that I glided through it in just a few hours. Everything from the protagonist’s voice to the description of the setting feels authentic, giving the reader just enough detail to enjoy, picture, and relate to what occurs in a given scene–allowing them plenty of latitude to fill in pieces for themselves. It’s fitting that, in this novel which plays with the concept of moving through a portal to another reality, Hainsworth has left the perfect about of space for the reader to inhabit. She draws us into her world by making room for us.
The story question, deceptively simple, raises all kinds of problems for Camden PIke: What if he were able to see his dead girlfriend, still alive in an alternate reality? The setting, despite Camden’s ability to move between realities, is closed and simple, and the book’s cast of characters–limited. By doing this, Hainsworth funnels the reader’s attention more toward the internal story–Cam’s struggle as he compares what he thought he knew about his girlfriend’s basic nature to her possessive, reckless behavior under the conditions of this alternate universe. This is while Cam, at the same time, confronts another version of his own story where a positive attitude and different choices lead to greater success. The blame for how his life turned out in his own reality rests squarely on his shoulders…with one small caveat. Cam will learn that the people who enter his life–and those he makes an effort to keep close to him–ultimately help to make him a different person.
Hainsworth is one of those authors who makes it look easy but whose work, upon close examination, can be appreciated down tot he sentence level for exactly how much effort was put into it. And this is only her first novel. An immediate fan–I can’t wait to plunge into her next book.
Michelle Joyce Bond