Originally posted Jan. 5, 2009
This book is very well written with a plot that both teens and adults would find interesting. It is straightforward in a lot of ways, but actually runs much deeper. All through life everyone has “spaces left behind”. Colm is a 15 year old boy who is more adult than child. The space left behind when his father left the family, the children still very young, has produced in Colm a sense of responsibility far beyond his years. He is filled with disgust and anger from the many stories he has grown up with regarding his father, and yet he is a compassionate and caring young person with everyone else he comes into contact with. The second space comes when he loses his long-time companion, Chester, his dog, on the day that his mother and new husband leave for their honeymoon in Las Vegas, taking his little sister with them. Left to himself in the empty house his great-grandfather had built, he puts his high intelligence into play, remodelling the plumbing and the laundry room. The book is aptly named because with all the spaces left behind in his life, Colm is exceptionally close to his “family” but totally separated from his father. When his mother speaks of selling the house and all of them moving to Nevada, it is one strike too many.
An accident to an elderly neighbour brings Colm suddenly into a strange reunion with his father at a very vulnerable time. He neither trusts him nor wants anything to do with him. But circumstances intervene and he finds himself on a road trip across the country with his father. Between their opposite personalities, there is very little communication. Colm spends most of his time withdrawn into his own thoughts. There are some funny episodes along the way and it appears that nothing is the way it is perceived to be when they reach their destination. I enjoyed the book, it was different, engaging, and has something important to say.