Traumatized from a small plane accident that killed his parents and sister and injured him, Finn has returned to his grandmother's farm in Vermont where he's always spent happy summers, to regroup and continue his life. His trauma has left him unable to speak.

At the farm he is surrounded by the healing presences of his grandmother, an old summer friend, Julia, and the animals. Between painful flashback memories of the accident, Finn begins to allow himself to enjoy moments, especially in the tolerant and undemanding presence of the girl and the woman who are also grieving, but who find ways to help him reclaim life and the present.

Visiting an old childhood hideaway in nearby pine woods, Finn and Julia run into drug dealers who use the isolated spot for their transactions. Finn finally finds his voice when he is forced to rescue Julia in the midst of a spreading fire from an abandoned well into which she was dropped by a panicked drug dealer who feared exposure.


While some of the plot elements seem a little extraneous to the central themes of the story (the meetings between drug dealers are unconvincing) this book is a compelling read. Its main value lies in its empathetic presentation of a trauma victim gone mute, and the way it helps readers to imagine what that might be like from the inside. It is convincing in the way it shows how grief mutates into anger, fear, boredom, restlessness, insomnia, and a sense of "stuckness."

Both Julia and the grandmother are sympathetic caregivers, but also experience bewilderment and impatience at Finn's prolonged silence. While one might wish for a little more development of their characters, Finn's is memorable. A useful book for discussing post-traumatic stress reactions.


Simon & Schuster

Place Published

New York



Page Count