Book Review: A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence (Series, #1) (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)
Alaric lives in the crumbling Withern Rise house with his widowed father. Nothing has been the same since his mother’s death in a train accident two years ago. Now his dad is off helping his girlfriend get ready to move in with them, and his crazy Aunt Liney is there to keep an eye on him. Miserable, he touches a carving his mother made of the house from wood from the family tree years ago and finds himself transported to a parallel universe where a girl, Naia, is living his life–only with their mother still alive.
This may be one of those YA books that only someone in the midst of teen angst can truly appreciate, or perhaps an adult with a strong fear of losing their mother.
Alaric is an angsty teen, perhaps with good reason, but he’s annoying nonetheless. Thankfully, his Aunt Liney is present, and she is a breath of fresh air. The long-suffering, quirky aunt who was almost aborted and does not exist in the alternate reality is clearly important, but we never find out why. Probably this is key later in the trilogy, but I doubt I’ll struggle through simply to find out just how she’s a key factor. I also must admit that I find the obvious pro-life slant in Aunt Liney’s storyline annoying.
Although Alaric’s motivation for coming to and continually returning to the Naia’s parallel universe is clear, her motivations are not. Her world seems quite ideal, and Alaric is an unwelcome intrusion into it. She does not seem to possess a naturally curious or quizzical nature. This leaves half of the plot, Naia’s part in it, unclear.
The parallel worlds are interesting, but not nearly as creative as, say, Stephen King’s. The differences are all incredibly minor, based off of decisions and chances playing out in two different scenarios. A baby could be a boy or a girl. A mother could live or die. A sister could be aborted or kept. Yet how Lawrence draws the line on what counts as a chance or a decision is very unclear. Is every single choice and instance a decision? That would make the universes go on forever, which just seems highly illogical and improbable. I simply could not sustain my disbelief quite enough to get into it.
All of that said, I could see a teenager enjoying this story. Particularly one upset with his parents or wishing his life was minutely different in some way. I thus recommend it to a teen into fantasy and the concept of parallel universes.
3 out of 5 stars