This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It's about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it's about love. Finding love - in any of its forms - and nurturing it.
Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition's caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I'll flood out all these tears and it'll all be ok and I won't be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can't think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories - Herb's death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah - but none of these are what caused the phobia. I've always had it. It's Them. I'm just scared of Them. It's that simple.
When Greg "Fly" Hall, a teenager from wealthy Skipdale, falls for a girl named Alice from poverty-stricken Pitt, he imagines that he can save her from her abusive father and bully of a brother. But Greg labeled "psycho" by his classmates for his uncontrollable fits, lisp, and non-communicative nature faces a challenging route to protecting Alice. With his workaholic father, dance-obsessed sister, and social-climbing mother involved with their own interests, Greg resigns himself to following Alice and watching out for "Them," imaginary spiders that threaten to devour Greg and those he loves. Told alternately through Greg's diary and police transcripts, Rice's debut maintains an atmosphere of increasing dread as Greg gets closer to an approaching party and as memories from his youth, including a boating accident and a dementia-afflicted grandmother, feed into his paranoia. Despite the misguided help of his teacher and his mother, Greg skirts closer to psychosis with chilling nightmares that indicate his schizophrenic state. In the heartbreaking ending, Rice poses compelling questions about guilt, responsibility, and the culture of objectification that lead to Greg's final acts. Ages 12 up.