This book plodded along stealth-like, with an intriguing although unreliable narrator: the 11-yr-old Hooker, whose mute confusion and sadness were so very painful to bear witness to but who was also in some ways inaccessible for much of this very short novel. It was hard to know where the story was going - and even whose story it was - until the end, when the book turned dark and then darker still. In the last 50 pages, Findley spins kaleidoscopically around the family, finally giving the reader an inside look at each character's tragic isolation and personal hell.
Findley's playwright sense for mining the drama out of common-place domestic scenes, along with his fearless exploration of the themes of madness, family dysfunction and social stigma - not to mention the crazy-mommy-and-damaged-son motif - are all particularly strong here in his first novel.
It packs a wallop.