By Ben Dolnick
Pantheon, $24.95, 239 pages
Ben Dolnick introduces readers to two friends, Adam and Thomas. Adam is practically part of Thomas’ family and the two boys appear inseparable. When they are fifteen, they are a part of a freak accident that changes their lives forever, though. Shortly after the incident, the friendship dissolves and they each go their own way. Adam becomes a bit neurotic and finds himself in many dysfunctional relationships with women. He also cannot find or keep the “right” job. Thomas’ parents take Thomas to many doctors and specialists to help Thomas return to “normal”. But, instead, Thomas essentially disappears from everyday life. After many strange occurrences, Thomas’ parents contact Adam and ask for his help. Adam finds himself in India on a confusing search for Thomas. Adam must follow clues and various sightings of Thomas. Thomas is wandering aimlessly living on the street in poverty and filth; he is on a journey to enlightenment or least lessening his guilt. The scene in the cave is harrowing and so well-written that this reviewer sweated along with Adam.
“I’d thought that what I’d done already counted as searching the cave, but apparently to that point I’d only been milling around the lobby.”
Dolnick writes about mental instability with acute realism. He adeptly shows the reader how guilt can overtake one’s life. He leaves the reader hanging at the end, though, and the reader will wonder if Adam and Thomas will ever be able to return to the innocence of their teenage years.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff