June 1, 2015
Towering by Alex Flinn
by Alex Flinn
“I had not been outside in years. I wasn’t sure how many, exactly, because I didn’t keep track from the beginning. I didn’t realize I’d need to…”
So begins Towering, with the story of Rachel, one of the three intertwined stories that make up this book. Mama claims that Rachel is in the tower to keep her safe but the modern reader is going to wonder if that is really true. Maybe this is a case of child abduction, one family member hiding a child from another.
Next, readers meet Wyatt. He too has a secret, something shameful involving his best friend. Whatever it is, he’s been sent away to live with Mrs. Greenwood. Wyatt’s mother and Mrs. Greenwood’s daughter were best friends until the day the other girl disappeared. Wyatt’s there now so that he can have a fresh start, somewhere that no one knows his story.
But the first night there, he finds a ratty spiral notebook. A diary. In it Danielle tells about meeting a young man named Zach, a man her mother has forbidden her to see.
Page by page, the three stories draw closer and closer together until Wyatt meets Rachel and discovers the connection. Will they both have the bravery to save themselves and so many more?
Flinn has woven these narratives together to create a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story. At first, the hints of fantasy are slight and fleeting but they build until magic and hope weave seamlessly together.
This isn’t a story that readers connect with because their lives are so like those of the characters but these characters are still realistic and three-dimensional. Readers will connect with them because they are brave, flawed and likeable. Readers will recognize that there but by the grace of God and a few bad decisions, could be any one of us.
This is a young adult novel — while I don’t actually remember a single curse word, there are hormones galore and some substance abuse as well. That said, I highly recommend it. Young readers will appreciate it because it is just so true and real. No one has all of the answers, people make mistakes and yet few are without redeeming traits.