Although this is a young adult book, I found the novel completely engaging on an adult level. The story takes place primarily during the spring and summer of 1968, and is presented in the laconic, offhand voice of 13-year-old Lyza as she trudges her way through her little town in New Jersey, dealing with a fractured household consisting of her overworked single father and her 17-year-old hippie sister. The death of her beloved grandfather brings with it new trials but also a challenging quest: the puzzle he has left behind for her to solve. Lyza enlists her two best friends and they pursue the solution against great odds, taking risks and becoming even better friends along the way.
For me, this book was especially interesting for having been written entirely in blank verse. Not only is it well done as poetry, but it also works remarkably well in sectioning off the flow of the narrative into bite-size portions. “Chapters” are sometimes only half a page, and all are titled like individual poems, with interesting headings such as “Unwritten Rules,” “Road Trip,” and “Not Exactly a Joyride.” Lyza’s wry humor comes across excellently, and the blank verse makes the reader slow down a little and savor both the words and the thoughts. Bryant is to be congratulated for presenting this touching and fun story to young adults and older ones alike in this bravura literary form.