By: Alex Marestaing
Caleb Reed is losing his mind, at least that’s what his father thinks.
If it were only the show – America’s Funniest Home Videos – the same taped episode he’s watched every night for the last six years – then perhaps his parental unit wouldn’t worry so much. But there’s far more to the thirteen year-old’s manic daily regimen that makes even Caleb himself question his mental health.
For starters, there’s his obsessive worry about the abandoned mansion across the street, and then there’s that curious note someone left on his doorstep. It’s neatly folded, black ribbon wrapped, and signed by a stranger named Emily Dickinson.
“I’m nobody. Who are you?” it reads. “Are you nobody too?”
In time, more of these strange, poetic messages arrive, silently beckoning the agoraphobic seventh grader to venture further and further from the safety of his home in order to retrieve them. Are the notes from Iris, the YouTube obsessed eighth grader who has begun filming an indie film on his street? Has his deceased older sister returned from the grave to deliver some sort of message? Or are the pages actually from the pen of Emily Dickinson, the reclusive and long dead 19th century poet?
With his sanity in question, Caleb Reed’s entire existence depends on finding an answer.
I was contacted by the author to review this book and after reading the premise, I was interested to check it out. As the mother of a 13 year old boy, I felt like this is a story that I could relate to even though this is targeted at the young adult audience. Grownups will appreciate the references to Emily Dickinson and the descriptive nature of the author’s storytelling.
I was a little surprised that Caleb, a home-schooled, intelligent, and voracious reader was supposed to not know who Emily Dickinson was, but after asking both of our boys…they had no idea either. I am guessing teaching the poetry of Emily Dickinson is not a pressing topic in elementary/middle schools at this time.
I felt such conflicting feelings as I read this novel. I was angry at the parents for ignoring the grief that Caleb was feeling towards the loss of his sister and their removal from Caleb’s emotions. But, then I would remember they were also still grieving and would then understand their detachment. Time and time again, I find that children need the opportunity to grieve and talk about the loved one and this novel proved that as well. A lot of Caleb’s pain and confusion could have been avoided if only the proper grief process would have been allowed for him.
The author took great care in describing feelings, people, places and settings so well that they were explicitly imaginable. For example, the cat was “kneading out a bed among the valleys of his comforter.” Or in his description of Caleb, who was “homeless at home”. Many times I would stop and envision the gardens the author was describing or the debilitated house across the street.
Iris was such a delightful character in this story. She always knew just what to say to Caleb to either convince him to step out of his box or to feel better. Each of the characters had a necessary and purposeful role in the story.
In reading this book, I had to step out of reality a bit since the premise deals with someone who is no longer living and is leaving notes for Caleb. But the story is magical, heart warming, and still provides the reader with hope. It will leave you with a warm-fuzzy feeling and reminds you that it is still ok to believe in magic.
Author Alex Marestaing has worked on creative projects for The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Thomas Nelson and The Los Angeles Times. In addition, he’s written freelance for various faith-based publications and has covered soccer in Europe and the U.S. for Sports Spectrum Magazine and Yanks Abroad. I’M NOBODY is Marestaing’s third novel. For more information, check out www.alexmarestaing.com.
I’M NOBODY is currently available as an e-book as is only $.99 for the Kindle. This is one book that will leave you with a smile on your face and it costs less than your afternoon treat.
I received this book for free from the author. I was not compensated in any other way for this review. This review is my honest opinion.