(Image from Barnes & Noble)
"'Don't go pokin' through other people's closets, son. Them skeletons can be real mean" (40).
Even on her best days, Althea Leary can be unpredictable. Jasper, her 9-year-old son, loves it when she's warm and playful. When she's moody or angry, however, he knows to stay out of her way. Jasper is naturally confused when, instead of going to work in Detroit one morning, his mother drops him off at his uncle's farm in the country. Althea's smiling, trying to make the outing sound exciting, but Jasper senses something frightening beneath her false grin. When she rushes away, he worries. When she doesn't come week after week, he gets scared. Where has his mother gone?
Jasper's not the only one asking that question. Everyone, including a persistent detective, wants to know where Althea's hiding. Jasper can't understand what's going on. His mother is just his mother. People are calling her a troublemaker, a hussy, saying she's gotten herself mixed up in something dangerous. But what? And why? As Jasper does some snooping of his own, he stumbles on some startling truths about his mother. His search for her takes him into a crumbling old house, some seedy city establishments, and even the mysterious Indian reservation near his uncle's farm. Somewhere, someone knows the truth about Althea. Jasper can't rest until he finds it, finds her. Bad men are looking for his mom. He has to get to her first. Even if it means risking his life to do it.
The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley is a dark, disturbing mystery set against a bleak 1950s backdrop. Jasper's innocence at the beginning of the book makes a stark contrast to this setting. The boy remains a sympathetic hero throughout the novel, even though his purity is scraped away day by day as he journeys to hell and back in order to make some very adult discoveries. His experiences make for difficult reading. More than once, I wanted to shove this book away, but the mystery at the heart of The Buried Book brought me back. I was as curious as Jasper to know what had happened to Althea. Although the story's big reveals didn't end up being all that startling—or even satisfying—I kept flipping pages just so I could see how the story ended. Despite that, I found the story so depressing overall that I kind of wish I had skipped it altogether.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language, violence, sexual content, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter