I was surprised to see that this book came out in 2003. The way Thomson talks about his teenage years, which I placed vaguely in the early 1990's, made it feel more distant at the time of writing. You know, I am one of those people who forgets that I graduated 16 years ago so I guess that's not really surprising.
This book, well, it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me.
Thompson tells the story of his coming of age. I can't think of any better way to describe it. He tells stories throughout that are memories of his childhood, when he shared a bed with his little brother. Craig says that he was not a very good older brother, that he was sometimes mean to his brother and that he didn't protect him. He touches on the inappropriate conduct of a babysitter, a trap that he let his brother fall into and that sent him headlong into religion and the striving for heaven.
Craig takes religion seriously, seriously enough that his pastor asks if he has considered going into the ministry. Craig hasn't really considered anything about his future. Then he meets Raina at winter church camp and he is instantly smitten. When he goes to stay with Raina and her family in Michigan for two weeks in the winter, he begins to see that he may have missed out on some of life.
This book touched on a lot of sensitive and emotional subjects: religion, abuse, first lover, doubt. However, I felt like all of these things were handled very well. I can promise that I was invested in this story after my initial doubt that it was for me. Craig's experience of first love and his realization that he may not have been invested enough in the real world felt like legitimate experiences to me. They felt real.
This was a touching tale but one which I can see not fitting for everyone. -RYQ