January 31, 2005 12:00 PM

by Liz Jensen

Try putting down a book that begins: “I’m not most kids. I’m Louis Drax. Stuff happens to me that shouldn’t happen, like going on a picnic where you drown.” Louis, 9, has nearly died eight times in his life, but his latest mishap—a fall from a cliff into a ravine—might be his last. He’s in a coma, and his borderline-hysterical mother, Natalie, has brought him to the clinic of doctor Pascal Dannachet. Jensen tells her wonderfully strange fourth novel from the points of view of Louis and the doctor, skillfully unraveling the circumstances behind Louis’s perhaps not-so-accidental fall. Dannachet becomes captivated with Natalie and in the process finds himself in eerie communication with the comatose boy. Louis’s father, a suspect in the case, has disappeared, while Louis wanders in the shadow world of his own mind. This is an affecting psychological novel about transgression and the mysteries of the subconscious.


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