Published August 2020 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: checked out from my local library
Publisher's Summary:One September afternoon in 1999, teenagers Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang are walking home from school when they discover a boy lying in a field, bloody and unconscious. Thanks to their intervention, the boy’s life is saved. In the aftermath, all three siblings are irrevocably changed.
Matthew, the oldest, becomes obsessed with tracking down the assailant, secretly searching the local town with the victim’s brother. Zoe wanders the streets of Oxford, looking at men, and one of them, a visiting American graduate student, looks back. Duncan, the youngest, who has seldom thought about being adopted, suddenly decides he wants to find his birth mother. Overshadowing all three is the awareness that something is amiss in their parents’ marriage. Over the course of the autumn, as each of the siblings confronts the complications and contradictions of their approaching adulthood, they find themselves at once drawn together and driven apart.
I've struggled over the years about when to write reviews after I finish a book. Do I write them immediately upon finishing when the book is fresh in my head but when I haven't had any time to reflect on it? Do I wait a while and let my thoughts percolate, knowing that details will begin to fade? I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and just have not had the time to write a review; and now, as I sit down to write one, I find that the second approach isn't the best approach, at least not for this book. I do remember quite a lot of the detail but my feelings about the book have faded and what I find that I really wanted to tell you about this book was how it made me feel.
While this is a book about finding the man who attacked the boy in the field, it much more about how finding that boy affects Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan, who are newly awakened to the perils and unpredictability of the world around them. The detective who comes to interview the children about the attack says to Matthew: “You’re wrestling with the problem of evil. I’m twice your age, and I’m still wrestling with it. Nothing prepares one for the discovery that there are people who have no conscience." Matthew needs to solve the crime, hoping that by doing so, by finding a reason for the attack, he will be able to right his world again. Zoe, who almost simultaneously with finding the boy finds that her father is having an affair, needs to find someone to love. And Duncan, despite deeply loving the family that adopted him, suddenly needs to find his birth mother.
There is not one extra word in this book and yet every scene and every person is vividly portrayed. As I was reading it, I was seeing a movie of it in my mind. Much of my appreciation of this novel may come from the timing of reading it. After the events of the past twelve months, I wanted a book that helped make sense of the world. Because of that, I was willing to accept a dog who "chose" Duncan and then seemed offer each of the family members advice and direction simply through a look, to accept that nearly all of the characters are basically good people, and that there are a very few moments were Livesey seems a little insensitive. If you're in the mood for comfort in these trying times, I think you'll enjoy find yourself in the same frame of mind.