"Which came first. The chalk men or the killing?"
Summer, 1986. That's when it begins. With the arrival of Mr. Halloran, the new teacher in town, and 5 friends.
Eddie Munster was my nickname...Eddie Munster, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey (on account of the huge braces on his teeth), Hoppo (David Hopkins) and Nicky. That was our gang. Nicky didn't have a nickname because she was a girl...Leaving coded chalk symbols for each other was just a game between Eddie and his friends. Until someone else started leaving drawings of white chalk men, drawings that eventually lead to the body of a murdered girl.
We all had our own colors of chalk. Fat Gav was red, Metal Mickey blue, Hoppo green, Nicky yellow and I was orange. None of our gang used white.Alternating between 1986 and 2016, this novel feels more like a coming-of-age novel than a murder mystery, but it's the mystery that ties it all together. Eddie and his friends are only 12 when the secrets and deaths begin; 30 years later those secrets still haven't come to light. But someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago, and Eddie is finally ready to figure out who's behind it all... and why.
Maybe it's time to take a ride all the way back down good old memory lane. Except, this is not a sun-dappled stroll along a path of fond recollections. This particular route is dark, overgrown with tangled knots of lies and secrets...And along the way, there are chalk men.I wouldn't necessarily classify this book as a scary, suspenseful thriller, but it is a very compelling read. Once I started, I did not want to put it down. I really like the way Tudor writes, and the mystery part of this book kept me guessing right up to the very end. There are a few parts that are kind of hard to read, like when young Eddie is getting bullied at the playground. There are also a lot of hard-to-like characters in this book; even Eddie has his issues at times. (I have to admit, I liked him and his friends best as kids.) But then, nothing about this book is easy and/or straightforward. I think that's what makes it such an interesting and memorable read.
Melody and I read this book together--another one of our buddy reads--and chatting with her about all of the twists and turns at the end of this book made it even better. So be sure to check out her review, as well as the two questions she asked me about this book when we were done.
Melody's questions and my answers:
Q. Chalk drawings seem to be the core subject in this story Do you think the story will have the same impact if it is set in the current times whereby the usage of whiteboard markers is more commonly used than chalk?
A. Ooh...good question. Most kids today don't use chalk, do they? In fact, most kids don't spend hours everyday playing outside like Eddie and his friends did. Today they'd be posting emojis online for their friends to find, which would be a very different story...and would not have the same impact as the chalk men symbols these characters found everywhere.
Q. What do you think is the main draw of this book? C.J. Tudor's, writing, the characterizations, or the ending? And which character stands out the most for you?
A. For me, I think the main draw is Tudor's writing. She really knows how to tell a story and capture a reader's interest. I never got bored reading this book, and I really wanted to find out what happened next. I think the character that stood out the most to me is Eddie, probably because he narrates the story and we know the most about him, but a close second would be Eddie's lodger, Chloe, who has her own unexpected twist at the end that really caught me by surprise.