Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud-Ben Sherwood

Charlie St. Cloud
Ben Sherwood
Bantam, Jun 22 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553386936

In 1991 in Marblehead, Massachusetts fifteen years old Charlie St. Cloud and his twelve years old brother Sam steal a neighbor’s station wagon to go to the Red Sox game. They have a good time at the ball park, but on the way home while crossing the Saugus River, Charlie crashes the vehicle; both die, but the emergency crew revives the teen. Sam is buried in the Marblehead cemetery.

Thirteen years later, Charlie is the caretaker at the Waterside Cemetery where his sibling is buried. Every night the St. Cloud brothers play catch as Sam delays leaving for heaven. When Charlie and Tess Carroll meet at the cemetery they are attracted to one another. She plans to sail around the world solo, but soon after their terrific date, her vessel is lost at sea. Charlie realizes the rescue team has failed to save her as he watches her spirit fade away while wondering what he can do.

This is a reprint of an engaging character study that focuses on relationships after a loved one dies and how much the living is obligated to deceased loved ones; especially since the person left behind loses a bit of themselves, but more so when they are a catalyst in a tragedy. The first half is as terrific and insightful a tale as this reviewer has read this year. However, the plot takes a weird turn with a couple of unnecessary twists that add tension, but destroy Sherwoodian after life physics. Still this is a fabulous tale that focuses on the debt of those alive owe to those who have died as Charlie, Tess and Sam make a fascinating macabre triangle (even if the brothers are Red Sox fans as I am from the Bronx).

Harriet Klausner

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