There are things Patrick Boyle will never forget: the sound of his own neck breaking at the moment of his death in the fall of 1970, the sweet taste of his mother’s chocolate cake, and the awful day his parents abandoned him in his childhood house-turned prison.
Nineteen-year-old Patrick wonders for decades if God has forgotten all about him or if he’s being punished for some terrible crime or sin over a lovely forty years trapped in an empty home. But when Sara Oswald, a strange woman with a mysterious past, buys his house, old feelings reawaken, and a new optimism convinces him that she’s the answer to his prayers.
Things are never simple, though, especially when she begins channeling the memories of his life and death in her writing.
The book begins with our hero’s death. It’s not really like anything Patrick would have expected but he’s only 19 so he really hadn’t given it all that much thought. He’s a bit freaked by watching everything that goes on around him yet no one can hear him.
His mother states after the funeral that she just needs to get away. Not on vacation and not moving to another town nearby – she doesn’t even want to be in the state. She loved her only child Patrick and she can’t stand to be anywhere near where he died. While reading about Patrick and his thoughts on death was emotional for me, reading about Patrick’s parents leaving the house just about brought me to tears. He could actually touch, feel and move around those things that were his in life and he begins to hide things so that his mother and father won’t take them with them.
We read about Patrick and his time alone when no one is in the house. He’s tried multiple times to get out of the house via door or window but he just loses consciousness, so to speak, and wakes up 5 hours later. The time that Patrick spends reading his few books over and over and trying to figure out why he’s there and did God forget him – or if there even is a God – is incredibly moving. I know he’s dead but in the story he’s more like a living being and the loneliness just breaks my heart.
Then one day a woman comes to the house. He thinks she’s really pretty and lo and behold, she’s bought the house. He finds out that his parents couldn’t bear to sell the house and for various reasons it has stood empty for 40 years. Patrick is shocked that so much time has passed but he’s so very interested in the new owner, Sara. What starts out for Patrick as a crush on Sara turns into full blown love. I did have to pause a bit at this point as I wasn’t sure if it was just his feelings of love because of being alone so long or a young crush but the author really put my mind at ease on this one and I was soon once again flowing with the story.
Sara has a history of what is considered mental illness by her family. She’s not crazy but she has cause to doubt herself. She talks to herself all the time – which is great for Patrick of course – but she soon sees a face in the mirror and can feel Patrick’s “touch.” One night things change and suddenly she can hear Patrick speak. She thinks she’s really lost it but when eventually she can see him as well she just goes with the flow. The question is – how does a relationship between a woman and a man-ghost continue and how does she explain it to her family.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up the book. The blurb had really caught my eye and I was anxious to see what happened between Sara and Patrick.
I very much liked Patrick from minute one. He had a great sense of humor and though there were many things he couldn’t understand about modern technology (once Sara moved in with her cell phones and her iPod) he just went with the flow. He was a romantic guy and I loved reading about his desire to really take Sara out on a date or go pick her flowers – but he couldn’t. He was a gentleman and I just wanted everything to work out in his favor – even if he was a ghost!
Sara took a bit of getting used to as I wasn’t sure what her story was at first. Her background before moving to the house was a bit sketchy at first and when I did find out what had happened before she had moved there I just felt horrible for all she’d gone through. She showed that she was a loving and compassionate woman and, obviously, open-minded. She had no idea where the relationship between Patrick and herself would go but she was more than open to just about any possibility.
Then there were the secondary characters. One was Patrick’s ex-girlfriend, Ginny, who was a great character both in 1970 and in 2010. She was kind and thoughtful and though a bit hesitant about ghosts she went with the flow. Then there was Sara’s sister, Jules, who was, in my opinion, the crazier of the two sisters! She was not a supportive woman and imho didn’t treat her sister all that well. She was quick to call Sara crazy and want her institutionalized. I so wish that Jules could have heard Patrick because he had a few things to say to the woman! lol
I can’t tell you everything that happened with Sara and Patrick because it’s truly something you need to read on your own – but it’s well worth the time and money to do so. It was a really great book about love, possibilities and devotion.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place