Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3/5 Characters: 3/5
This latest from the author of the uber bizarre The Family Fang and Nothing to See Here is another tale of weirdness focussed on two lonely and awkward teens (Frankie and Zeke) with nothing to do one summer in Nowheresville, Tennessee. Together they craft a poster with the captivating phrase “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us” and distribute it anonymously throughout the town with gobsmacking (British for astonishing) and kind of scary results. Decades later,a reporter tracks Frankie down, somehow having discovered her role in what became known as the “Coalfield Panic” and sends Frankie into a tailspin of fear.
It’s a coming-of-age story packed with trauma, art, young maybe-love, and some eye-opening insight as to how one can inadvertently have a big impact on the world. Wilson’s books tend to be unconventional stories with somewhat broken characters that you like in spite of yourself. To be honest, while I did enjoy reading this, the story didn’t feel like it was enough to keep my interest for as long as it took to read the book, and the characters were broken (as expected) but somehow less appealing than in previous books. I got kind of bogged down in the middle. The phrase — albeit an interesting phrase — didn’t fascinate me quite enough to make the constant repetition anything other than dulling.
Thank you to Ecco and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on November 8th, 2022.