Summary (from Goodreads):
“Caleb Reed is losing his mind, at least that’s what his father thinks.
If it were only the show – America’s Funniest Home Videos – the same taped episode he’s watched every night for the last six years – then perhaps his parental unit wouldn’t worry so much. But there’s far more to the thirteen year-old’s manic daily regimen that makes even Caleb himself question his mental health.
For starters, there’s his obsessive worry about the abandoned mansion across the street, and then there’s that curious note someone left on his doorstep. It’s neatly folded, black ribbon wrapped, and signed by a stranger named Emily Dickinson.
“I’m nobody. Who are you?” it reads. “Are you nobody too?”
In time, more of these strange, poetic messages arrive, silently beckoning the agoraphobic seventh grader to venture further and further from the safety of his home in order to retrieve them. Are the notes from Iris, the YouTube obsessed eighth grader who has begun filming an indie film on his street? Has his deceased older sister returned from the grave to deliver some sort of message? Or are the pages actually from the pen of Emily Dickinson, the reclusive and long dead 19th century poet?
With his sanity in question, Caleb Reed’s entire existence depends on finding an answer.”
Oh, you guys, I loved this book. It’s smart and sweet and fun and unlike anything I’ve read. I immediately loved Caleb because he’s such a good guy even though he’s afraid all the time and then when we met Iris, I loved her too. (Naturally. Movie people are my people.)
I especially liked the fact that there’s absolutely no “will they become a couple?” tension with Caleb and Iris. They’re friends (eventually) but there’s no romantic angst. Which is nice because not every story has to be a love story. ;)
Although it’s also not entirely inaccurate to say that this isn’t a love story. It’s not a conventional one, to be sure, but it’s very much about love (specifically the love that Caleb has for his sister, who he misses so much and who has been essentially erased from the family since her death).
It’s also not entirely fair to say that Caleb’s agoraphobic. Basically it’s not that he CAN’T leave the house—he just chooses not to. Home is safe and when you leave home, you may not come back. His sister didn’t, after all. And his mom encourages it, because she barely leaves the house, either.
The only thing that didn’t really make sense to me was that Caleb didn’t know who Emily Dickinson was. But then I figured that he’s home-schooled so maybe his curriculum is less rigorous or inclusive than my real school one was? Or maybe kids today don’t learn poetry? But that’s a minor quibble.
Because seriously guys, this book is enchanting. Good luck not staying up until you’re done. :) Highly recommended.