Publication date: May 20, 2014
Source: I received this e-galley via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
I ended up sticking to one author, Lisa O'Donnell, for most of Bout of Books last week. I read The Death of Bees first (review here), so I expected something quite similar going into her new book, Closed Doors. However, I didn't find them very much alike.
Michael Murray, the eleven-year-old narrator, gives the reader all of his thoughts, all of the time. It was akin to listening to a mini version of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, minus most of the swearing. Take heart, unlike Holden, Michael is not in the least bit annoying. His age explains much of what he thinks, says, and does. (Sorry Caulfield fans...I just reread Catcher with my students, so Holden's gonna take a fall here.)
Instead of running away from all of his problems (*cough* Holden *cough*), Michael attempts to figure out and deal with the problems that begin plaguing his house one late night. Being eleven, none of the adults in his family make it easy for him, thinking him too young to handle anything remotely adult. So Michael does what any kid might do, he begins listening behind closed doors. Without the understanding of an adult, Michael begins to piece together what he hears, eventually telling the story of his mother's new sadness and his father's anger.
What I like about Michael (and makes me even more annoyed with Holden Caulfield) is that he isn't just dealing with this one problematic aspect within his family. He is also juggling school, friends, and girls. All parts of his life soon become tied to his family's problem and still the little bugger chugs along.
Any sense of suspense (and perhaps his ability to move along) comes from the fact that the narrator is too young to completely understand what is happening around him. Michael is not yet world-wise and so the reader is continually doing his/her own piecing together based on a broader knowledge of the world in which we live, as well as watching Michael come into his own.
In the end, the metaphorical closed doors of his family's sadness give Michael what he has wanted the whole time. Closed Doors is different than The Death of Bees, and just as enjoyable.
Anyone hear any juicy secrets while hiding behind closed doors?