Elizabeth receives a call late one night, and it’s the worst news she can imagine. Her son, Tommy, has vanished into the local woods without a trace after spending the day at his usual hangout, a large split boulder deep in the woods that the boys have been calling Devil’s Rock. The friends he was with seem to be hiding something and there are no other leads on where he might have gone. As the official investigation into his disappearance stalls, Elizabeth begins to see a ghostly figure in her room at night, and her daughter starts finding disturbing pages from Tommy’s missing diary appearing around the house. When the truth about Tommy’s world comes to light, everyone will be irreversibly affected.
As the layers of the events leading up to the disappearance are peeled back, Tommy’s story, and the stories of everyone around him are ripped open to reveal their deepest hurts and insecurities. The best strengths of the story are the insights into the vulnerability inherent in being a teenager. The boys’ craving for acceptance in their group is heart-breaking in how recognizable it is. Each of them has their own collection of fears and worries, and their desperation to hide them exposes the boys even more. Elizabeth and her family’s attempts to comfort themselves and each other are also given proper emotional weight in the story. The secrets that the family has kept from each other, and every time they fail to connect is devastating to watch from the outside, and from a position on the other side of the story. The ultimate conclusion to the mystery feels inevitable when it comes, but is still surprising and uniquely devastating. The darkness of the story is well served by the deep and nuanced emotional cores given to each character. The plot is engrossing but it’s the characters that will stay with you after it’s over.