Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.
And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.
When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.
The biblical, ominous atmosphere of Gullary provides a vivid backdrop for Jonah’s and Stormi’s feelings of longing and alienation, which are further explored through occasionally poignant banter and conflicted family relationships. The almost-romance is engaging. A flawed but darkly atmospheric read. (Fiction. 13-18) — Kirkus Reviews
I. Er. What did I just read? This was one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read Clive Barker’s early stuff so that’s saying something. There were moments that felt like a dream, moments like a nightmare, moments like a half rotted plank was giving way under my feet. Confusing and fascinating, Unfolding is certainly going to keep readers guessing and turning the page.
For a while I thought I would give up with too-often repeated Biblical references and not even thinly veiled allusions to parables, but things started to coalesce into more of a narrative as you moved through the tale. Although the book never really got to the point where everything made sense, but most of the big questions were answered and there was a conclusion to most things which one thought ought to be concluded.
I can honestly say that this is a book that many people won’t be able to finish reading. It’s too, much. It’s muchness is foreboding and intimidating, and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who stick it out the reward of having finished will be there. It will be enough. Or not, if you expect something greater gleaned from the experience.
Like some of the author’s critics I agree that it’s not the most technically impressive book, but the style and precise barbs at closed-minded society are worth noting. Unless the author actually believes some of the outlandish ideas implied within these pages, then that’s another conversation entirely, and one much less pleasant.
I had trouble relating to the main character or his object of affection, but I did find myself more in Arthur, oddly enough. Maybe it’s because he’s so analytical and literal like my daughter that he was the most familiar territory. And largely an innocent all things considered.
Not much time is spent in giving the outer lying characters more than a line or two here and there, but as the story itself spins around so wildly and comes together only in a loose way, it wouldn’t have been possible. And as this is a realistic setting, one I’m mighty familiar with having grown up below and inside of the Ozarks, no world building was necessary past the extent we saw. So I’m not faulting anyone here, just would have liked to see things a bit more, cohesive, a bit more, or maybe less? Not so much focused on the philosophical and existential angst coming from a teenage boy, and a bit more on what was happening and why, in a way that made me understand or at least feel as if I could follow along.
All that being said, I stayed up way too late finally finishing this book and I don’t regret it, which might be all you need to know to pick it up for yourself. However, I will give you this warning I’m not seeing elsewhere, I felt this would be best suited for a more mature audience due to somewhat disturbing content.
Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids.
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