Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Shadow Year-Jeffrey Ford

The Shadow Year
Jeffrey Ford
Morrow, March 2008, $25.95, 304 pp.
ISBN: 9780061231520

In a small town on Long Island in the sixties, a family is going through some tough times. Jim, his brother and their sister watched their father work himself to death doing three jobs and their mother drink her self into a stupor. They escaped to the basement where Jim and his brother built “Butch Town”; a cardboard representation of their neighborhood populated with action figures and match box cars.

Their sis Mary who is in class X in school because they are not sure if she is very bright or simpleminded changes things in “Butch Town” and those things she alters come true. She removes the figure of a boy and the next day people discover he is missing; nobody finds him. A neighbor Mr. Baritzar is found in snow with his neck broken by a snow plow; Mary took his figure off the board earlier. The boys believe a stranger “Mr. White” is behind the disappearances and Mary traces him on Butch town. A former resident now eighteen years old returns to deal with Mr. White and he is willing to help the three siblings.

This interesting fiction is an amalgamation of mysticism, imagination and mystery. The twelve-year old narrator keeps a chronicle of the goings on in the town for the year and since the story is told in his first person, readers get into the heart of an adolescent young boy. The atmosphere is gothic in which reality and the supernatural meet to form a book well worth reading.

Harriet Klausner

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