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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 30.
- Review Date: 2009-05-04
- Reviewer: Staff
DeLeeuw's spellbinding debut is told from the point of view of a being who assumes the persona and desires of a boy's repressed self. The mysterious narrator encounters six-year-old Luke in Central Park, where Luke gives him a life and a name, Daniel. Daniel has no memory of consciousness before meeting Luke, but as the story moves forward into Luke's college years, it becomes clear that he has a history distinct from Luke's own. He quickly learns that he's stronger when Luke is troubled, and, luckily, there's much in Luke's life to distress him. Meanwhile, Claire, Luke's divorced mother, runs a publishing company founded by her mother, and when Luke comes across a novel about a doppelgänger the company published decades earlier, Daniel realizes it may offer clues to his own secrets and persuades Luke to destroy it, much to Claire's despair. DeLeeuw delivers a neat bundling of the classic story of a spirit possessing an innocent with the Jungian shadow self, but in the end readers will be somewhat disappointed that he neglects to answer some of the more intriguing questions he poses about Luke's family. (Aug.)
Smart, sinister debut
Brian DeLeeuw’s smart, haunting debut is unlike any novel I’ve ever read. A coming-of-age story and a literary thriller in equal parts, In This Way I Was Saved is a story of friendship and betrayal, violence, madness, lust and power that will keep you guessing until the very last page—and leave you gasping for air.
From the moment six-year-old Luke meets Daniel in a playground near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the two are constant companions. Daniel plays with Luke’s toys, sleeps in his bedroom and distracts Luke from the painful realities of his parents’ divorce. He even follows Luke and his mother, Claire, to Fire Island, where Luke’s attentions to Claire and his new puppy gnaw incessantly at Daniel. Fiercely jealous of Luke’s other relationships and fearful a day will come when Luke forgets him entirely, Daniel’s attempts to regain his position grow increasingly sinister—and even violent.
Once you’ve seen the lengths to which Daniel is willing to go to keep Luke by his side—or rather, under his influence—you won’t be able to put this book down. Daniel accompanies Luke to high school, feeding him the right answers during class, and helping him call plays on the football field. But Daniel’s motives are far from innocent. The more Luke needs him, the stronger Daniel grows, until he begins to be able to make choices for Luke—choices he would never make on his own. And in the battle to control the life they share, only one of them can emerge the victor.
In This Way I Was Saved is an impressive debut—fascinating, suspenseful and controlled—and it will chill you to the bone. In Daniel, DeLeeuw has created an unforgettable character with a voice that is both highly intelligent and deeply unsettling. After seeing the world through Daniel’s eyes, there may be no turning back.
Lindsey Schwoeri writes from Brooklyn, New York.