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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thin Space by Jody Casella

Thin Space refers to a belief in Celtic spirituality  that there are places where the boundaries between heaven and earth are especially thin. 

 This idea is taken farther when an old woman tells twins Austin and Marsh that she was able to find a thin space and visit with her father after his death.  Mrs. Hansel is in hospice care at home, and the boys have been doing chores for her as she prepares to close out her life.  They listen to her stories and take her information about thin spaces with a grain of salt.

After a car accident kills his identical twin, Marsh faces survivor's guilt big time.  Marsh was driving, and even though the accident was caused by a drunk driver, Marsh can't forgive himself and without his brother, he feels bereft and incomplete.  

Marsh's guilt has deeper causes that he reveals a little at a time, and the possibility of a thin space becomes an obsession, a compulsion that leads to strange behavior.  He cuts himself off from friends and family.  Initially, they recognize his need to grieve, to come to terms in his own way; however, as his strange behavior and isolation continues for months, his parents worry.  They are going through their own grief and despair at the loss of a beloved son, and now the other seems at risk.

When a new family moves into Mrs. Hansel's house, Marsh's attempts to search for a thin space within the house are frustrated, but Marsh uses the opportunity provided by friendly Maddie, a girl about his own age, to get in the house.  

This is a fine debut novel by Casella; a thoughtful narrative that examines grief and guilt and secrets, with a bit of myth and the  supernatural.

Thin Space will appeal to the YA audience, and I enjoyed it, too.  It is an interesting story with sympathetic characters that have to confront their own circumstances and then move on as best they can. It is easy to empathize with Marsh and Maddie, both have secrets that are painful, but they form a bond and provide each other with support.

NetGalley/Beyond Words Publishing

YA.  2013.  Print version:  256 pages.

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