A fairly complicated novel of a teenager whose brother goes missing, an extinct woodpecker who makes a surprise appearance, and a Christian Missionary. What makes this book so complicated, at least to me, is that it switches from 1st to 3rd person narrators, it switches between narrators, it incorporates fantasy into the narrative, it has some narrators that aren’t necessarily 100% on top of their game, and it has a bit of religious theology that for the layperson (me) could be (totally was) confusing
This is, of course, part of what makes this book so extraordinary. There is a point where the different storylines begin to converge that is just so well done it made me want to scream. The author also plays around a bit with the timeline which gave me a jolt when I was nearing the end of the book. Good work author!
So what is this book about? Well, I’ve been sitting here thinking for about 10 minutes and I’m having a hard time making a summary that makes any kind of sense. What it boils down to is that it is really the story of Cullen, a boy prone to day dreams and idealism, a boy who writes the titles of the novels he is going to write into a notebook (instead of the actual novels), a boy whose brother Gabriel goes missing.
The characters were so distinct and lovely that I wished I knew them in real life. The love between family members, the love between friends, even between community members (even when it came in the form of free hamburgers, named hilariously after the extinct bird "its just a #3 without cheese!" That killed me every time), it made the whole story bittersweet and touching in a way that it wouldn’t have been otherwise.
Even the title played into the narrative quite a bit. Lily, is a town (according to Cullen our main narrator), where people leave full of hope and then come back when they don’t make it, it is a town where an extinct woodpecker may have come back to, where hopefully Gabriel, Cullen’s missing brother will come back.
This is probably my favorite YA novel so far this year.
Book Source = Tayshas Review Copy