September 10, 2013

Review: Thin Space

I was not expecting to enjoy this novel as much as I did. I loved that cover, and the premise sounded like something I would enjoy.

I was right.

Title: ‘Thin Space’
Author: Jody Casella
Pages: 256
Publisher: Beyond Words/Simon Pulse
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: requested from Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.

But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.

As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.

My Thoughts:

Thin Space, real or not real?

As the novel opens, readers meet a shoeless Marsh—desperately searching for a Thin Space. The only way in is through is bare feet.

Marsh has been searching since he was able to recover from the accident. The accident that took the other whole of him, his twin brother Austin.

There are things that need to be said. Apologies to be made.

But those around him believe he is simply in mourning, going through a phase, dealing with loss the best he can. Even at school allowances are made to accommodate his new shoeless life.

But too much of a good thing is not the way to heal—and those around him want to intervene. And love him. And allow him to love them back. There is just one problem: Marsh cannot seem to do so without his brother. His life. His twin. Austin. Lost.

But what if all of that is hocus pocus? What if Thin Spaces aren’t real? But more important, what if they are? What would he say if he were to come face-to-face with his brother?

Marsh is convinced that a Thin Space does exist. Next door. He has to get into that house. His neighbor promised on her death bed to leave a Thin Space for him. How does he get in? What does he look for?

Enter Maddie. New girl in town. Befriends Marsh quickly, even at the dismay of her brother Sam. She sits with Marsh at lunch, talks with him, wants to know him. There is just one problem: Marsh isn’t ready. He isn’t ready to live again, to do all the things that comes with living the life of a teenager.

His entire being is consumed with getting into Maddie’s house. She lives in the house where a promised Thin Space will be. Friendships must be formed in order for Marsh to get into that house. But how? Why?

The plot of this novel stole my heart. I loved it. I loved the idea of Thin Spaces. I loved the portrayal of all-consuming loss. I loved the pacing and development of the plot. It just spoke to me.

I think we all have a Thin Space in our own life—a passage into a world where amends can be made, promises kept. There goes the English teacher in me, but I felt the Thin Space itself was a metaphor for something greater in life. Nope, it’s probably just a Thin Space. But still. Loved it.

While Marsh seems to be a bit of an odd character, I found him endearing. He doesn’t mean to be odd. He doesn’t mean to make others feel uncomfortable. He just wants Austin back. He just wants to find that Thin Space—and the author takes a lot of care with his development. We experience his emotional stagnation, his want of friendship, his feelings of loneliness and insecurity.

But you know what, I couldn’t get over the shoelessness. Seriously. It just broke my heart imagining this teen in pain walking everywhere (including the snow) shoeless. It was such a reminder that we all have our quirks, and instead of judging one another for them, understanding is the way to go. This is what Marsh is missing in this novel. Understanding. Until he meets Maddie.

I loved her character. Maddie was just what Marsh needed in his life. I am a believer that people step into our lives at certain moments for certain reasons. Maddie steps into Marsh’s life because she is one of the only people on the page that does not judge him, wants to be his friends, wants to understand.

Some of the minor characters didn’t really add much for me. I found Maddie’s brother Sam more of a burden than an addition, and a couple of the kids that were bullying Marsh really just needed someone to kick their butts. But, that happens to be the sad realities of life.

This novel explores a plethora of issues: loss, trust, truth, friendship, loyalty. The author handles them with honesty and with care.

As a whole work, I enjoyed this novel. The story kept me interested, and there is a twist toward the end (I guessed it early on, but I also read a lot of mysteries) that I think many readers will enjoy, but be warned: it might leave you with more questions.

But you know, sometimes I like endings like that because I can make the decision for myself.

 I classified this as a YA mystery because throughout the entire novel, I feel we are putting together puzzle pieces to complete a mystery. There are a lot of unanswered questions in Marsh's world, and I felt like as readers it was our job to help find and place those pieces.

Thin Space is available now—you should add it to your classroom library.

What YA novel have you read lately that really struck a chord in your heart?

Comment below and let’s talk about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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