Annaliese, died when he was in the second grade. He has not been outside his house since that time, and he is now 13 years of age. He does however, have a fascination with the vacant house across the street. Meanwhile, Iris, a fellow student is entering a film contest and has interest in the same vacant house. She sees Caleb by accident looking out of his bedroom window, and decides to change the theme of her film to his unexplained disappearance since second grade.
Caleb begins to receive hand written notes from an Emily placed outside his home, which he thinks the notes are coming from his sister or Iris’ doing. Caleb embarks on an adventure farther than the front door to retrieve the notes, which takes extreme courage because he is afraid of the outside world. Emily encourages him to work on the garden at the vacant house with the help of a neighbor, Mr. Rowe. The neighbor informs Caleb of Annaliese’s love of gardening and her warm outspoken nature. After receiving numerous notes from the mysterious Emily, Caleb’s fear of going outside gradually succumbs as he enlists the help of another friend of Annaliese, a member of a rock band now a painter.
Caleb’s parents catch him outside and employ a doctor for him to be hospitalized for his illness. Caleb receives the last note from Emily; it directs him to go to another town by train for a meeting. Once there, he meets Emily and discovers startling information about the author of the written notes.
Alex Marestaing deals with the issue of a teen who has agoraphobia very properly. This novel moves along at a steady pace, and has a very interesting story line full of mystery. I enjoyed the twists with the written notes and Caleb’s friend, Iris, who did not give up hope on Caleb. I most definitely recommend to young adults who love a good mystery and an easy read. Even though the audience is for young adults, adults will enjoy just as well.