OK, yes, you have read this sort of story before, and you‘ve seen it in movies. Someone with amnesia wakes up. Without a memory, that person has to piece his or her life together and figure out how and why s/he arrived in the present. But let’s face it–unless this scenario is one that drones on endlessly in a soap opera, it’s a fun premise. And in Blackbird, the reader is pulled into the mystery immediately and races through the story to a satisfying conclusion. That is, an almost satisfying conclusion in that Blackbird is the first book in a trilogy.
Blackbird is narrated in the second person. I see this more often lately and although writers are often advised against using the second person (You), I almost always love it. (Think of Blink and Caution and how well that worked.) If YOU wake up on the subway tracks in Los Angeles without any idea of how you got there–or how you got the scars on your neck or the strange tattoo on your wrist–well, you want to find out. This happens to you in Blackbird. All you know is that you have a backpack with one thousand dollars, some clothes, and a phone number on a piece of paper that says, “Do not call the police.”
You have to make up a name for yourself when the boy in the supermarket, Ben, notices that you are hurt and asks about you. Sunny, you think. That’s a good name. And so your adventure begins. You realize that you may have been some sort of thief or juvenile delinquent in your previous life–after all, you can pick a lock, break into an office.
Someone out there seems to know exactly what your criminal talents are and is watching you. You are stuck; you’ve lost your chance to go to the police. Who do you trust?
This novel reminds me of a short story that many, many high school students read in anthologies. When I taught English, that story was always a favorite among my kids. (I can’t tell you the name; it would give away a nice plot point of the novel). If there’s anything I didn’t like about Blackbird, it’s that the elements of the storyline that were concluded in this ‘book one’ seemed rushed–a sort of, ‘Well, this and that must have happened by now’–before the presentation of the character that will drive the second book. But altogether, Blackbird is a blast. YOU’LL have fun with it.
High school housekeeping: I recommend this novel to all high school students. It’s fast-paced and short enough for the reluctant reader, but it also has enough mystery and plot twists to engage a book lover. Teens are always asking me for a mystery, and this is a very good one. Once I talk this up at my high school and some of my kids have read it, I want to ask them about connections to that anthologized story. We can wonder together whether it has had a lasting effect on Anna Carey, the author of Blackbird. I’m guessing yes.