My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one of those books I’ll be thinking about for a long time. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. Really, I give it 4.5 stars because it’s practically perfect!
Being from Tennessee, I was curious about how Zentner would use the south in his work. I’d heard a good bit about his excellent sense of place and his spot on characterizations, but even when a person does it right, stories set in small town southern locations often irritate me. Zentner did not disappoint. His characters were multidimensional, smart, and engaging, and Forrestville (Forestville), Tennessee, felt very much like the town where I grew up.
Told from three POVs (Dill, Lydia, and Travis), I enjoyed getting to know each character and feel close to them. Their struggles and emotions rang true of teenagers who feel stifled by the town where they live. My only issue was that sometimes the chapter voices weren’t distinct enough for me to remember which character was telling that particular chapter. The three POV characters had strong, unique voices of their own, but they blended together in the chapters, especially where two or more were in a scene. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it was a minor stumbling block for me while reading this book.
I look forward to Zentner’s future work, and I hope he’ll continue making beautiful characters from small town decay.