The Boy in the Field

Harper. Aug. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780062946393. $26.99. F
In 1999, three British teenage siblings on their way home from school find an injured youth lying in a field. Significantly, the boy whispers a word, but all three hear something different. Matthew, the eldest, takes it upon himself to continue to investigate the incident, contacting the victim’s odd brother and trying to offer the detective additional “clues.” Zoe discovers her budding sexuality and pursues a relationship with an Oxford student. Aspiring artist Duncan adopts a dog and decides to find his birth mother. During their varying pursuits, all three learn a family secret involving their parents. While avoiding many stereotypical tropes, Livesey (Mercury) deftly portrays the rich inner lives of adolescents. In unique ways, each sibling uses the incident that opens the novel as a jumping-off point for self-discovery. Though their involvement in the crime was relatively minor, each makes it “about them,” as teenagers are wont to do.
VERDICT There are perhaps a few too many coincidences in an attempt to tie up loose ends, but Livesey does well by her teenage protagonists while offering a vivid portrait of life among intellectuals in an Oxford-vicinity village.
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