in steven herrick's newest book, published a couple of months ago now, student teacher james is heading to a country town for his very first teaching experience. ostensibly, james is ready - he's got the job, somewhere to stay (and all paid up), he's got the keys to a bmw and a healthy cut lunch for the drive.
it soon becomes clear that james is far from ready, and far from willing to enter into the teaching life. and sophie - so cocky and apparently self-assured - is hiding, or has masked, some painful secrets and sadness. the characters are all big-hearted, very real people. they talk, they're awkward.
and in an unusual move, a number of the chapters are narrated from james' parents point of view. ok, so you don't really want to read about (spoiler) parents having sex, but at the same time it's kind of special to be privvy to angela and michael's experience of being left behind by their only son - coping with his absence and torn between trying to protect him from the world while also wanting him to discover it. complete pic of family and when the time comes, at the end of the novel, we are able to understand the parents' motivations and responses.
on one hand you think you have this story figured out: road trip, coming of age, boy meets a quirky girl and is bewitched. on the other hand...this is steven herrick and it's beautifully written and a truly lovely story.