February 6, 2017

Unfolding


One week after the storm, Ma planted a cottonwood out front of our trailer. She later explained it as an act of defiance. Ma was sinking roots, declaring that no tornado could dislodge our family from Green Country, the eastern wedge of Oklahoma infiltrated by the Ozark’s mountainous tentacles. ~First lines of Chapter 1.

I have mixed feelings about Unfolding, by Jonathan Friesen. In many ways I loved the story. It’s not my go-to genre, and actually I’ve read very little few YA books, but I’m intrigued by the storyline. And in other ways, I’m left with uncertainties. I won’t recount the storyline (which can be read in the blurb.) Instead, I will share what I enjoyed most, and things that puzzled me.

Things I enjoyed:

1.    I love that the story is told in a first-person narrative. It allows the reader to sink into the main character and see the world through his eyes.
2.    I love the main character is male. I read a lot of women’s fiction, so it’s new and refreshing to see things through a male perspective. Jonah is a likeable, believable, and sympathetic character. I truly cared about his plight and inner turmoil—particularly concerning his feelings for his friend, Stormi.
3.    The townsfolk (especially Jonah, Stormi, Tres, and Arthur) are memorable, and the town of Gullery, Oklahoma and its underlying secrets, give the story a unique and shadowy feel.
4.    I enjoyed the slight paranormal aspect. It isn’t overpowering, but is in it just enough to add some oomph.
5.    I am so pleased Jonah’s epilepsy is front and center of this story. It gives him a believable hardship that he deals with through inner-strength and acceptance.

Things I’m a tad unsettled about:

1.    I have to be honest, in saying that there are parts of this story I don’t fully understand. There are also a couple of instances I didn’t find authentic. Such as the way the teens treated or talked to their parents. In these (few) instances, I was taken out of the moment.
2.    The ending is what I’m most unsure of. It is both satisfying and unsettling. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. Still, I recommend this story for those who normally read YA, because it carries many of the aspects you’ll expect out of this genre.

For forty bucks, I’d tell him I wet the bed until twelve years old, and that I spent hours gawking at photos of Stormi. I’d name every drunk in town, and whisper the places they go when the moon is full. For a tip, any tip, I’d spill all of Gullary’s secrets. But I couldn’t tell him what was behind the red door. ~Excerpt from Chapter 1.

I struggled on how to rate this book, back-and-forth between 3.5 and 4 stars. Ultimately, the higher rating won out. Unfolding is weird and wonderful, surprising and unsettling. It’s an intriguing tale of mystery, faith, and redemption. An odd read, with truly unforgettable characters.

4 stars

Cover: Love it (Love the back cover as well.)
Title: Love it
Publisher: Blink
Pages: 272
ISBN: 978-0310748335
First lines (prologue): She dropped from the Oklahoma sky. A gift. Proof of the Almighty’s existence.
I received a complimentary copy of this book.