This was an advanced reader copy for the November 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Title: The Lying Woods
Author: Ashley Elston
Elston’s The Lying Woods left me conflicted. The way the town acts towards Owen, the mystery of his father’s choices and summer, and the harassment his mother faces made it a hard read. Everyone in this book hurts. They are raw and cruel. If they can’t take out their pain on the true source, anyone adjacent is welcomed – causalities damned by association.
On one hand, no one wants to be taken the fool twice. On the other, these victims ignore Owen’s inability to control the good that was bought with their bad. So they punish him for joy. They punish him for having, and even when they have social acceptance, a home of their own, and a secure future – they begrudge him all that he lost – because having once is better than not ever having at all. Which is strange to me.
I come from a family similar to the majority discussed – middle class, enough to get by, but no fancy vacations or schools or cars. I worked three jobs in college, and I’m still paying down the debt for my degrees. Despite this, while I can understand the anger at watching everything get stolen, Owen and his mother get attacked for existing. It’s frustrating, and whenever Pippa tells Owen not to be a jerk, I sincerely hope she told the same to everybody else (which Owen implies she does but we don’t actually see much). It’s frustrating and accurate – because people suck – so if you want a happily ever after, this isn’t it. The good guys don’t have a clear victory. The bad guys don’t all get punished, and eighteen years can’t actually be made up in six months, but hey, good on Elston for being optimistic about one thing.
Not something I’d read again, but a solid story.