Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish
Presented without comment, because a picture speaks a . . . well, you know what I mean.
And that's where every ghost story begins, with a death.Laura Whitcomb uses all her words and that is all there is to it. It was so comforting (and not a little emotional) to be back inside the beautiful canopy of language she creates. Somehow she manages to return us to that absolutely unique atmosphere evoked in A Certain Slant of Light, and it is as though we were never away. Helen is a point of view character this time around as well, and it was easy to fall back into the cadence of her thoughts. But since I felt her story resolved nicely in the last book, Jenny was the one I really wanted to be with. So it proved to be somewhat of a distraction when Helen's presence in the story occasionally threatened to overwhelm Jenny's. I fully understood her preoccupation with Jenny's fate, but I could have done with a little less from her directly. Because when Helen fades into the background and allows us an unfettered view of Jenny and Billy together . . . it is magnetic. As in the final chapter of A Certain Slant of Light, the bond between these two is breathtakingly tentative. I would have followed them anywhere they wanted to go. And Whitcomb does take them places, beyond the boundaries of time and space, in fact. A favorite passage that takes place fairly early on and far, far away:
He lifted his foot and rested it over my ankle, gently pinning me down.And so while the story spends a rather unnecessary amount of time detailing Helen's anxieties and desires for her former host, it redeems itself by winding its way around again to the heart of this sequel--two shell-shocked and lonely young people who find each other and, in each other, hope.
Then he pointed into the heavens. "Want to go there?"
"That star." He gave his finger an extra stretch toward the dozens of stars in that general direction. "The one by those other two stars."
"What do you mean?" I lifted my arm so it was touching his, our hands and fingers aligned, and pointed. "That one?"
"No," he complained. Then he swiped his fingers across our view of the sky, like he was flicking away a speck of dust or a drop of water, and the night surged forward. The stars, staying perfectly aligned, curved across the sky--time had sped into the future an hour.
I gasped at this and grabbed his hand, pulling it back toward our bodies as if he might accidentally throw the earth off its rotation. The stars slowed again, appearing to have stopped.
"How did you do that?" I whispered.
"I took us somewhere we hadn't been yet," he said. "Forward in time."
He said it so matter-of-factly, but the idea made me shiver on the inside.
"Just a little," he reassured me.
"Thats . . . so cool." I pointed at one particularly bright star and gave it a push with my fingertip in the air. The map of stars glided forward again, constellations staying aligned as they gracefully passed over us, not a long way, just a bit into the tail of the night, an hour or two closer to morning.
He made a sound of alarm, a fake cry, and then laughed, "Here." He lifted his arm to mind, our hands together, our index fingers pointing up. As one, without saying aloud what we would do, we moved the stars a few minutes westward, then froze. "Look what we can do together," he said.