The Shadow Year: A Novel

The Shadow Year: A Novel

by Jeffrey Ford
4.6 6

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The Shadow Year: A Novel by Jeffrey Ford

In New York's Long Island, in the unpredictable decade of the 1960s, a young boy laments the approaching close of summer and the advent of sixth grade. Growing up in a household with an overworked father whom he rarely sees, an alcoholic mother who paints wonderful canvases that are never displayed, an older brother who serves as both tormentor and protector, and a younger sister who inhabits her own secret world, the boy takes his amusements where he can find them. Some of his free time is spent in the basement of the family's modest home, where he and his brother, Jim, have created Botch Town, a detailed cardboard replica of their community, complete with clay figurines representing friends and neighbors. And so the time passes with a not-always-reassuring sameness—until the night a prowler is reported stalking the neighborhood.

Appointing themselves ad hoc investigators, the brothers set out to aid the police—while their little sister, Mary, smokes cigarettes, speaks in other voices, inhabits alternate personas . . . and, unbeknownst to her older siblings, moves around the inanimate residents of Botch Town. But ensuing events add a shadowy cast to the boys' night games: disappearances, deaths, and spectral sightings capped off by the arrival of a sinister man in a long white car trawling the neighborhood after dark. Strangest of all is the inescapable fact that every one of these troubling occurrences seems to correspond directly to the changes little Mary has made to the miniature town in the basement.

Not since Ray Bradbury's classic Dandelion Wine has a novel so richly evoked the dark magic of small-town boyhood. At once a hypnotically compelling mystery, a masterful re-creation of a unique time and place, a celebration of youth, and a poignant and disquieting portrait of home and family—all balancing on a razor's edge separating reality from the unsettlingly remarkable—The Shadow Year is a monumental new work from one of contemporary fiction's most fearless and inventive artists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061863752
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 365,869
File size: 559 KB

About the Author

Jeffrey Ford is the author of three previous story collections and eight previous novels, including the Edgar® Award-winning The Girl in the Glass and the Shirley Jackson Award-winning The Shadow Year. A former professor of writing and early American literature, Ford now writes full-time in Ohio, where he lives with his wife.

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Shadow Year 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an intense novel. It really and truly was, and it is elegantly written and well-done. Our narrator is a nameless sixth grader, the middle of three children in a family struggling to get by. This is very much the year he comes of age, where he awakens to the world. Its a story of families and siblings. Its a story where our narrator sees that the world loses it's soft edges and where a boy discovers that safety is an illusion and that everything has teeth. That is WHY its so intense, because it is all too real how the narrator discovers child molestation, death, sex, and the myths that childhood is grounded in. Though your own experiences may not be as intense or similar, we all remember when we started to figure out that our parents can't protect from us everything, that sometimes parents need protecting, and that the world isn't safe. It captures the fears and doubts of that age perfectly. Its set in the lush background of the sixties, in a land without pop culture permeating everything. And in this world where horrors are not quite yet real, it is totally believable when the author weasels in hints of the supernatural. It makes the book more unsettling and increases the intensity. I didn't feel the need to question the paranormal elements, and our narrator feels much the same, because magic is easier to believe when you're young. The writing is strong, very visual. There are only a few stutters, the biggest flaw being the author's assumption that you can totally remember the names of characters mentioned fleetingly one hundred pages ago (especially since so many names sound alike almost everyone's last name starts with an 'H'!). But this is a small flaw, and the only one that really niggled at me. Still, you may need to build your own 'Botch Town' to keep track of who's who! I didn't expect to like this book, the first few pages were a little difficult for me. But I found myself engrossed and unable to put it down halfway through - it was so easy to slip into this world and accept it unquestioningly. I recommend it very strongly for those that like books like 'The Lovely Bones' and who enjoy straight fiction. It may not be as life-altering as that work, but it has a similar feel to it, and it is really thoroughly enjoyable.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In a small town on Long Island in the sixties, a family is going through some tough times. Jim, his brother and their sister watched their father work himself to death doing three jobs and their mother drink her self into a stupor. They escaped to the basement where Jim and his brother built ¿Butch Town¿ a cardboard representation of their neighborhood populated with action figures and match box cars.---------------- Their sis Mary who is in class X in school because they are not sure if she is very bright or simpleminded changes things in ¿Butch Town¿ and those things she alters come true. She removes the figure of a boy and the next day people discover he is missing nobody finds him. A neighbor Mr. Baritzar is found in snow with his neck broken by a snow plow Mary took his figure off the board earlier. The boys believe a stranger ¿Mr. White¿ is behind the disappearances and Mary traces him on Butch town. A former resident now eighteen years old returns to deal with Mr. White and he is willing to help the three siblings.------------- This interesting fiction is an amalgamation of mysticism, imagination and mystery. The twelve-year old narrator keeps a chronicle of the goings on in the town for the year and since the story is told in his first person, readers get into the heart of an adolescent young boy. The atmosphere is gothic in which reality and the supernatural meet to form a book well worth reading.------- Harriet Klausner
Hilly-D-says More than 1 year ago
This book is well written and just draws you in, it's like he's reliving a memory not telling a story. So deatailed the characters leap off the page, the story is interesting and takes you deeper and deeper. I would not call this a thriller but more of a progressive mystery. I just downloaded another one of his books, a fan for life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Along the flatlands is a large, flower filled prairie. Mainly splashes of purple and yellow, with some blue and red, this is a fun place to go to, as it is very lively.