One of the finest writers of his generation tells a story of youthful passion and adult responsibility and of quiet yearnings toward love and art.
There are two mysteries in Jonathan Strong’s Elsewhere. In a working-class town near a large city, a baby is taken from her crib. The storyteller knows who took her, but he doesn’t tell us and he doesn’t tell the police, either. Once he was a high school teacher who filled his life with the concerns of his students until a fascination with one of them had him entangled in a situation he has only begun to contemplate.
And that’s the second mystery: a story of affection and neglect, of loss and reparation, as the teacher probes for an answer that he’s afraid to learn, but compelled to seek. The setting is a gray landscape of bus lines and chain-link fences, of looming dark churches and once-proud Victorian houses, now covered in asphalt or aluminum. One of these, a round three-decker wedding cake of a house, is his tenuous home and the fleeting refuge of the young people who came to him to learn.