Everyone seems to know best when it comes to Jan's future - but he's still working out for himself who he really is. Jan feels so hemmed in by the pressures of family and friends, he decides to leave home and live alone in the house on the toll bridge. While there, he meets Tess and Adam and their close bond of friendship develops into something which has devastating effects on them all.
British writer Chambers (Dance on My Grave) stresses the ``adult'' in Young Adult in this finely calibrated novel. Along with its salty language and unreserved descriptions of sex, this work is informed by a sophisticated literary sensibility that will keep mature readers on their toes. Chambers twines themes from classical mythology and Kafka, crafting a haunting, multi-layered investigation of the mercurial nature of identity (serving this theme, for example, the three protagonists give one another new names). The bookish main narrator, Jan (short for Janus, the two-faced god of bridges)-formerly known as Piers-takes a job as the keeper of a toll bridge on a private estate far from his stultifying home. There he is befriended by Tess (originally Katharine), the caretaker's daughter. Enter Adam (birth name Aston), a roguishly handsome drifter, who moves into the gatekeeper's cottage with Jan, and the triangle is complete. Against his better judgment, Jan, like Tess, falls under Adam's spell. ``Not just because the sight of him turned me on but because I'm human,'' he explains. ``The fact is we're all succored by sex, and some of us are finally suckered by it too.'' A torrent of dramatic developments leads to a surprise resolution, in which Jan and Tess find out just how ``suckered'' they have been. Provocative in the best sense, this novel suggests even more than its intricate plot spells out, leaving readers with much for pleasurable contemplation. Ages 13-up.