Coming of age novels and stories have reverberated with authors and writers for so long that a fresh telling is a rare creature indeed. In Sightings, B.J. Hollars manages to capture not one, but ten fresh tales of growing up and coping with loss in Indiana. Though the Indiana that Hollars describes is a mystical land populated with 21st century pioneers, clowns, Confederate soldiers, and robots, their experiences perfectly capture our own, passed along in the sage, but fanciful voice of a child.
In one story, a child describes his creation of Brady, a vacuum cleaner robot named for his dead brother, while in another, a benchwarmer helps Sasquatch prepare for a hot prom date. Though each of these stories can stand alone as an enjoyable read, Hollars weaves subtle connections between the stories, drawing the reader into this unbelievable world, populated with characters who have experiences reminiscent of our own, allowing us to reconnect with childhood, with the absurdity that we survived.
Though we have not all lost a brother at a young age and have not all suffered through an Oregon Trail re-enactment, complete with apple cider, venison, and no cell phones, we have all lost. We have all been thrust into the awkward and foreign world of adulthood, yet somehow we made it. Though we couldn't laugh about it then, Hollars ensures that we can now. And more importantly, by pulling us from our known adult world back into the alien and the absurd, he offers us the chance to reconnect with our past and to capture glimpses of insights we missed while we were caught up in the excitement and the terror of growing up and losing things and people we held dear—family, friends, childhood itself.
The truly rare quality of Sightings is that in addition to the opportunity presented for reflection and reconnecting with our past and our loss, this is the funniest book you will read all summer.