CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number . . . .March 17, 2017
Lark and Alec decide to celebrate her seventeenth birthday by canoeing on the lake. All is well until they hear screams nearby. Five-year-old Annabelle, someone Lark used to babysit, has fallen from another canoe and her mother screams in terror. Both Lark and Alec jump out to try and rescue the child, but Alec hits his head, and he, too, is drowning. Lark can save only one person and is thus faced with the most difficult choice of her life.
Nothing is the same again for Lark. She begins to receive strange phone texts and often hallucinates that she is in rising water. She wants to continue writing songs and performing with her band, but the relationships there become strained. Her father begins to show signs of heart problems. Lark starts to think that she is suffering from some sort of post-traumatic shock which is slowly but surely driving her mad.
Kuipers presents her young adult readers with a conundrum based on the terrible choice Lark had to make that day in the lake. When she makes this choice, her life actually splits into two parts, and readers see the consequences of her choosing to save Alec and then a parallel story about the consequences of her saving Annabelle instead. The two possibilities send her life on very different trajectories, and Lark finds herself researching and contemplating the idea that people might actually be able to live parallel lives.
The theme of living parallel lives is the author’s method of telling this coming-of-age story in a new and different way. Like other fictional characters, Lark must make significant choices which threaten to tear her life apart. In attempting to regain control, she learns a great deal about herself, what is truly important to her and what she hopes to get out of life.
The theory of parallel lives makes an interesting premise for the novel, but it is also confusing for readers. Lark seems to be two quite different people, and those around here also change depending on their reactions to her. Thus characters in the novel shift in terms of actions and viewpoints and become fuzzy. As well, because the novel, itself, shifts back and forth in time, readers read the events of the same day, often beginning with exactly the same words, in completely different ways. Attempting to keep track of who had been saved and who was dead and what was happening made this reader lose track of some of the more important themes.
Young adults will watch Lark as she struggles with her two realities, and those interested in the paranormal will particularly enjoy the somewhat irregular plot twists and turns presented by Kuipers.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.