Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux, Macmillan on September 16, 2014
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Lifestyles, Social Issues, Visionary & Metaphysical, Young Adult
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.
Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.
People throw around the “U” word in reviews all the time. Unique. But I can without a doubt confidently say that The Evidence of Things Not Seen earns every bit of the word Unique. Evidence of Things Not Seen centers around a very bright, socially awkward teen that disappears in a small town. We never actually get to meet the teen- Tommy, but the whole book is told about people that either find things of his or knew him in some way. Some of the chapters connected easily to him and his disappearance, while others are more glimpses into others lives and have a looser connection and are more philosophical in nature.
Some of the chapters felt like a stream of conscious narrative. The parts where they were talking to the police and you only got their side of the conversation. I also really enjoyed the excerpts from Tommy’s journal in between each chapter. It left everything very open to what really happened to Tommy. There are endless possibilities, which is really what the book is about. Or one of the things anyway. On a side note, I feel like Tommy would be a kid in the candy story if he world jumped into Josephine Angelini’s Trial by Fire, which also experiments with the concept of infinite possibilities and different worlds and traveling through time and space.
A few of the chapters felt a little unnecessary to me, but the overall feel of the book was very cool. I have never read anything quite like it. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking to see the whole town’s different connections to Tommy. Evidence of Things Not Seen is a book that will make you stop and think. The ending doesn’t leave you with any hard answers, but it does leave you with various questions to ponder, which really is the whole point of the book. Evidence of Things Not Seen is a moving, though provoking and dare I say it- Unique book.
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