Evidence of Things Not Seenby Lindsey Lane (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan on 2014-09-16
Genres: Country Life, Emotions & Feelings, Lifestyles, Social Issues, Visionary & Metaphysical, Young Adult
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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—Evidence of Things Not Seen explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.
Tommy Smythe’s disappearance shocked the small Texas community that he lived in. From the students that attended high school with him, to the residents that saw him driving around town on his red motorbike, to the people just passing through and stopping at the little dirt pull-out off the highway that was the last place Tommy was seen, everyone was affected in one small way or another by Tommy’s mysterious absence. Evidence of Things Not Seen is told in third person point of view chapters, not repeating a narration character throughout the entire book as you make your way through a year after Tommy disappeared into thin air. In between each of these chapters are little snippets from Tommy’s notebook, giving his views on things such as physics, parallel universes, and how hard it was for him to fit in and feel things the way normal people do since he’s so smart.
Everyone the Sheriff talks to says that Tommy is a genius, and it seems that everyone has a different theory of where he disappeared to: a stranger kidnapped him from the pull-out, he slipped into a parallel universe, he ran away to find his birth parents since he was adopted. But few traces are left behind except for his motorbike, his goggles, and pages of his journal that are blowing around in the wind. Some chapters deal with characters that are just your average teenagers that new Tommy–his fellow science nerds, the jock that ran into him while he was tutored by another student. Their chapters deal with normal things as the Sheriff interviews them and you get the teenagers’ one-sided conversation. Several of the stories dealt with very dark themes, such as male rape, prostitution, and murder, and this can push the envelope with some people. But several dealt with hope of a better life, like the migrant workers that use the pull-out to get new jobs.
I give Evidence of Things Not Seen a four out of five. The writing was crisp, sometimes stark, but beautiful at the same time. Each chapter and point of view has a distinct voice, which was really refreshing and distinguishable. While a lot of the stories focused on the dark side of humanity, they always held a note of hope in the end. Things aren’t wrapped up all neatly, though, just like real life. I was a bit let down that there wasn’t any real closure and the chapters sometimes seemed a bit choppy when they ended a bit abruptly.