Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Clearing, by Heather Davis

After getting out of an abusive relationship, Amy decides to go live with her great aunt in rural Washington. Things don't go terribly smoothly for her and she has trouble making new friends in such a close community. Instead, she finds solace wandering through the woods. One day, she walks to a clearing and becomes curious about a deep fog on the edge of it. Passing through the mist, she finds a boy on the other side who appears to be from an entirely different time.

Henry (the boy) is in fact living in the summer of 1944 on a continuous repeating cycle. It all started after the death of his brother and shortly thereafter his mother. Praying to be able to avoid all of the horrible things that happened at the end of that summer, he got granted his wish. Now, he isn't so sure that it is what he wanted because he sees the costs of living solely in the past.

Each of them in their own way is living in denial of their past and fighting their future. The true question is not why they find themselves drawn to each other, but whether they can find a way to break out of the cycles they are in and move forward.

I found this to be a highly original and entertaining fantasy (and far too underrated in my opinion). Time travel is such a tired concept and the story will remind folks of Tuck Everlasting, but Davis has breathed an new life into what could have been a very trite story. I enjoyed Amy and Henry and found their search for redemption and rebirth to be uplifting. I would not go so far as to claim that it is some sort of literary classic (Davis is shooting more to entertain than to achieve that lofty status), but this is a nice story with characters who are meaningful and delightful. I recommend it.

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