Let me start by saying that I live within walking distance of Deloume Road, in Mill Bay, BC. I also have a friend in common with on FB, with the author. Our common friend has the same name as one of the main characters! While I sure hope the crux of this story is a complete work of fiction, I'll be asking my friend about his friendship with the author!!
Onto the book, the writing is very poetic. Hooton's writing style is very descriptive and I had absolutely no trouble conjuring up the settings being described (perhaps it helps that I've been there!). I really liked this one passage... "Korean was easier to speak but its confines made her feel claustrophobic. It was so imposing with its hierarchies and six levels of politeness, in how it seemed poetic, but was also clinical, perhaps lacking something. Could it be joy? English was ridiculous, there was no doubt; it made no sense, following rules only occasionally, but it also allowed room to move, a freedom of expression and wordplay that was dominated only by loose structure and motivated by communication, not grammar." Such a perfect description of the English language and an interesting description of Korean symbols!! Love it.
The flow of the book was a bit choppy at first, until I got the hang of it. I just felt though, that there were some hanging threads that never really got sewn into the story in a manner that worked for me, Al and Irene primarily. To me they were extraneous to the story and not really needed. They were certainly interesting characters and connected to each other, but not really needed in this particular story. That being said, they didn't necessarily interfere with the story, but I was left with questions I would have liked answered. They'd actually be an interesting premise for a book all on their own.
The overall story is dark, but there are certainly redeeming aspects to it, in how neighbours can see and react without necessarily speaking out. For boys so young to be caught in such an extraordinary circumstance, well let's just say, reality (in the literary sense) could have been a whole lot different!!! No doubt that scars would be deep!
This is certainly not the best book I've ever read, but it is far, very far, from the worst! I enjoyed the read and will happily read any further offerings from Mr. Hooton!