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.
... exquisite ... Livesey’s writing is quiet, observant and beautifully efficient—there’s not an extra word or scene in the entire book—and yet simultaneously so cinematic, you can hear the orchestral soundtrack as you tear through the pages ... The story is told through alternating perspectives of the three siblings, each of whom we come to love and root for.
Refreshingly, it’s a coming-of-age fable, far more concerned with probing how the shocking discovery alters the three young witnesses, and is all the richer for it ... the latest novel from Margot Livesey, a prolific writer with a keen eye for the interiority of her characters, a skill that enriches her novels with a rare intimacy and immediacy. In lesser hands, this volume would devolve into another tired tale of adolescence featuring your typical lovelorn teens figuring out who they want to become when they grow up. These tropes make an appearance, but Livesey deftly tweaks them to reflect how a shared traumatic experience ripples into the lives of the three protagonists — each a distinct and beautifully rendered character ... This tragicomic misunderstanding is the means that Livesey uses, brilliantly, to turn the narrative from a crime saga into a perceptive examination of family life ... By focusing on the hidden lives of her characters as they grapple with these secrets, Livesey tenderly evokes childhood’s end and the realization that growing up will overwhelm you with more questions than answers ... Some readers may, like Matthew, be unsatisfied with how Livesey chooses an unconventional, anticlimactic reveal of who attacked Karel in the field ... unconventional and captivating.
... luminous ... Livesey’s language is crystalline-clear and immersive, replete with vibrant imagery and echoes that play particularly effectively in her portrayal of Duncan, whose vivid imagination stymies him during class ... Ultimately what keeps Livesey’s novel aloft is that it is full of kindnesses ... Like so many other moments in this novel, that description nails the moment, the character, and the elemental aspect of the book in one fell, satisfactory swoop.