I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.
My reviews can also be found on my blog, Kittens and Books.
Upon checking Goodreads for the genre listing, as I do for every review, I realized the third genre listed is young adult. I feel like this may be due to the low amount of users shelving the book so far - although it's third, only 6 users have marked it as YA. I realize it might (and probably will) change as time goes on and more people read the book after its release, but I also thought I should say here that this book is not young adult. Although the protagonist is in middle school, I don't think most kids that age would get as much out of the book as someone older.
The center of this book is anxiety. Will's mother has gone through a lot in her life, including the tragic loss of her entire family - even her twin brother, whose death she feels responsible for. As time went on, her fear grew, until she could no longer leave her house or even answer the door.
She never told Will not to leave the house, but of course she led by example. On the day he does leave, he realizes that outside is not as dangerous as his mother thinks. As Will grows more fearless, his mother's fears seem to multiply. How can she protect her son, the only thing she has left, if she cannot even leave her own house?
I really enjoyed this story. Although it took me a long time to read - the pacing was slow, especially in the beginning, and I normally read adult fiction pretty slowly anyway - the story had my attention from the start. Part of it had to do with my interest in psychology, and how interested I was in the anxiety Will's mother faced, but the other part had to do with the characters.
The characters felt like people. They were complex, with several sides to them, and each had a past, several of which were shared throughout the book. Seeing things through Will's eyes was wonderful, but the parts from his mother's perspective were just as great. The perspective change to "Titus" around the center of the book threw me off and I found it difficult to care for this new character who so suddenly took over their story - but by the end, the importance of his chapter was shown. I still wonder if there wasn't a better way to introduce him.
Overall, this is a great book. There are a few things that bothered me, including a part that felt incredibly unrealistic and something towards the end that felt a bit unresolved to me - neither of which I can give away without spoilers. But I think the positives outweigh the negatives by far, and I personally took a lot out of this book. I cannot help but feel it would be a very relatable book for parents as well, as Will's mother worrying over him and wanting him safe was such a central theme in the book. She had the same fears as I imagine most parents do, only amplified due to her anxiety.
I think this is one to read when you're in a patient mood, although the pacing does pick up towards the end, but it's definitely one I would recommend.