Based on other reviews, I think I expected more out of this book, fantasy wise. I pictured talking trees and dancing animals-straight Pocahontas style. But the subtle darkness I found instead was just as pleasing, if not more welcomed.
This novella of a mere 77 pages had me deep rooted in Hendersen, BC, all green fields and thick forests. Brian spends most of his waking hours in that exact forest, where he's most at ease and free. His father spends his time in his shop, grease elbowed and waist deep underneath his cars. Alternating narration between the two, with Brian's narration being the events before his disappearance, the story opens with Brian's unhappiness about having to spend spring break in the city with his mother, a precursor to ultimately moving in with her. I emphasized with Brian's glumness instantly, I loathed having to switch between houses every other weekend, why couldn't I just stay in one house? I hated packing the most.
During one of his treks in the woods, Brian is startled by a young girl named Carly, who he is immediately mystified by. Together they delve into parts of the forest Brian could never have imagined existed. It is here that the book begins to take on a magic realism feel, and I couldn't help but want it to go on for another hundred pages. Brian becomes beautifully carefree and unburdened, and the author does a great job of placing us right at his heels- I smelled, felt and saw every petal, every glistening dew drop. When Brian doesn't return from the woods one night, I felt the loss at my core before his father does. Before his father is faced with himself; himself as a father, an ex-husband, and a young boy, who had once, himself, went missing in quite the same manner his son did-though he holds no recollection of it.
I felt a loss not for his disappearance, but for the world in the woods that the author crafted so effortlessly. I wanted to stay with Brian-to watch his musings, witness what he discovered, and felt, and loved. This book was small, but was so big in so many other ways. It had a few typos and grammatical errors, but such small things were overshadowed by the beauty of the writing and feeling of pure and simple magic. I am looking forward to picking up Before I Wake by this author.