Title: The Turning
Author: Francine Prose
Teen Reviewer: Shannon Finney
Rating: 3/5 Stars
The Turning by New York Times bestselling author Francine Prose is a spooky and entertaining read, ideal for preteens. When high school student, Jack, first arrives at the remote island where he is to babysit two young children for the summer, he feels a little nervous but overall enthusiastic. However, it does not take long for Jack to become very unsettled and frightened about things going on in the house and with the kids, who both at first seem to be polite and friendly. Although the mansion is the only house on the island, and he and the children its only inhabitants, he begins to feel that they are not alone - that there are elusive spirits living among them. Read Jack’s letters to his girlfriend that recount the details of the strange happenings on the island, and witness the turn he takes from an easy-going kid to someone unlike his old self completely.
For the young reader, The Turning is suspenseful and thrilling. The way that Prose uses letter correspondence to tell the story allows you to get inside of Jack’s head, which helps develop the story and show the mental transformation that the events on the island puts him through. The added drama between him and his girlfriend adds to the excitement of the novel, and other unique touches of romance throughout will please paranormal teen-fiction fans. Readers who enjoy mysterious novels will also enjoy The Turning, as Jack’s investigation for the source of the activity on the island uncovers new leads that are not resolved until the end of the book. However, there were some issues with the novel that I could not ignore.
In this short, easy-to-read book, there are some parts that do not exactly make sense. Toward the middle of the novel, the conversation via mail becomes less realistic, as he continues to write extensive letters to his girlfriend even as their relationship goes through a rocky patch. Toward the end, he writes to his Dad about things that he was there to witness, throwing in phrases like “remember that, Dad?” Since everything he says in the letters must be said to tell the story, I think it would make more sense for the book to be written in the traditional style. Disregarding this minor detail, the book is still enjoyable and entertaining.
Overall, The Turning is an exciting, mysterious tale of creepy paranormal happenings and psychological deterioration. The young reader who enjoys a good scary read will enjoy this novel by Francine Prose.