Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages" by Alex Marestaing

I'm Nobody:
The Lost Pages
by Alex Marestaing

I came across I'm Nobody as a member of the Lovers of Paranormal group on Goodreads. This book is suitable for middle grade to young adult readers. It has won an honorable mention at the 2013 London Book Festival, which honors the best in international literature. I'm Nobody is also a finalist in the Young Adult category of the 2014 Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition (EPIC) Book Awards.
Join Alex's Facebook event for announcements on the book's release through other retail outlets. You can also enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a paperback copy of I'm Nobody (US only, ends 28 January).

Caleb Reed is losing his mind, at least that's what his father thinks.
If it were only the show - America's Funniest Home Videos - the same taped episode he's watched every night for the last six years - then perhaps his parental unit wouldn't worry so much. But there's far more to the thirteen-year-old's manic daily regimen that makes even Caleb himself question his mental health.
For starters, there's his obsessive worry about the abandoned mansion across the street, and then there's that curious note someone left on his doorstep. It's neatly folded, black ribbon wrapped, and signed by a stranger named Emily Dickinson.
"I'm nobody. Who are you?" it reads. "Are you nobody too?"
In time, more of these strange, poetic messages arrive, silently beckoning the agoraphobic seventh grader to venture further and further from the safety of his home in order to retrieve them. Are the notes from Iris, the YouTube obsessed eighth grader who has begun filming an indie film on his street? Has his deceased older sister returned from the grave to deliver some sort of message? Or are the pages actually from the pen of Emily Dickinson, the reclusive and long dead 19th century poet?
With his sanity in question, Caleb Reed's entire existence depends on finding an answer.

Book Trailer


By Lynda Dickson
Thirteen-year-old Caleb's sister Anneliese died six years ago and nothing has been the same since. Except that Caleb watches the same episode of America's Funniest Home Videos at 7 pm every night, an episode he can never finish watching. And he constantly stares out his bedroom window at the dilapidated mansion across the road. Suffering from OCD and agoraphobia and having been home-schooled since his sister's death, Caleb obsesses about the mansion. But now something about it has changed. When Caleb starts getting notes signed by Emily Dickinson and realizes they are coming from the mansion, Caleb starts to wonder if he is going crazy. Is a voice talking to him from beyond the grave? And if so, whose is it, Emily's or Anneliese's?
Enter loner Iris Elliott and her trusty video camera. Iris sets out to get some footage of the mansion for a music video she is making. When she encounters Caleb, whom she has not seen since second grade, Iris decides to make a documentary about him instead. So, two unlikely youngsters become friends, and things start happening that force Caleb to overcome his fear of leaving the house and help him come to terms with the loss of his sister. Do you believe in magic? After reading I'm Nobody, you just might.
This story is told alternately from Caleb's and Iris' points-of-view, a very effective story-telling device. The author has some lovely turns of phrase, e.g., "the truth fell like melancholy rain." And I loved this quote on books: "Surrounded by stacks of worn and cozy books, the voracious reader loved the safety of his upstairs hideaway. The Three Musketeers, Harry Potter, and a zillion other characters, all randomly piled in front of a space model filled bookshelf, were his only friends in a friendless world." My only complaint is the author's annoying use of expressions such as "the teen" and "the younger Reed" instead of simply "Caleb", and "parental unit" instead of "mom" or "dad". But, with a flawed hero, a kooky girl side-kick, a dead poet, and a satisfying ending, what's not to love?

Guest Post by Alex Marestaing
(originally posted on
You’ll have to forgive me as I get academic on my blog today. It’s just that – while researching for my latest novel, I’m Nobody - I learned some interesting things from the life of a very interesting lady … Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson struggled, with a lot of things. She wrestled God and faith and definitely fear. As a teen and even into her early twenties, she rejoiced in the faith of her youth. Thrilled by the magic of revival spinning in the Amherst air, she breathed in each word of the sermons she fervently listened to, her excitement evident in a letter she sent to her brother Austin after one particular service:
“I never heard anything like it, and don’t expect to again, till we stand at the great white throne…”
But time passed and pain came, and Emily began the spiritual struggle many of us face as childhood unexpectedly dawns into adulthood – the struggle between faith and fear. Her closest childhood friend passed away, with a young Emily at her bedside during those final hours. Then the Civil War rained down on the nation with a toll of lives incomprehensible to anyone alive at the time. At the same time, a group of scientists, led by none other than Charles Darwin, were telling her that man was more animal than angel, and that life was little more than a scientific process. And that’s when the magic, so evident during her youth, began to fade.
I’m ceded–I’ve stopped being Theirs–
The name They dropped upon my face
With water, in the country church
Is finished using, now,
And They can put it with my Dolls,
My childhood, and the string of spools,
I’ve finished threading–too—
With the magic fading, powerlessness set in. The dragons of this world so easily slain in the halls of faith, seemed insurmountable in the open fields of pessimism, and fear began its march. In the face of this terror, she began to retreat. She stayed home, stayed in her room, for the rest of her life, never leaving, an agoraphobic lost in the swirling mists of anxiety.
But faith is not a whisper that fades in the wind. It is a seed that, once planted, can find its way through the toughest soil as it reaches towards the light. And Emily Dickinson’s story had not seen its last chapter. Within the walls of her room, Emily wrote some of the most beautiful poetry our world has ever seen, words of celebration, of beauty, and of hope. Words like ...
Baptized, before, without the choice,
But this time, consciously, of Grace–
Unto supremest name–
Called to my full–The Crescent dropped–
Existence’s whole Arc, filled up,
With one small Diadem.

We live in Emily Dickinson’s world today, a world of pain, of doubt, and of fear. But as Emily found, it is also a world where faith can overcome and hope and love can make a difference.
This is the message I wanted to get across in I’m Nobody, my latest middle grade/YA novel. In the book, we find agoraphobic teen Caleb Reed struggling with this same fear. After the death of a sister who was his only friend, his life had taken on a hopeless, pale gray hue. That is until he gets a visit from a mysterious stranger, a stranger who asks:
"Caleb Reed, how long has it been since you believed in magic?"

About the Author
Author Alex Marestaing has worked on creative projects for The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Thomas Nelson and The Los Angeles Times. In addition, he's written freelance for various faith-based publications and has covered soccer in Europe and the U.S. for Sports Spectrum Magazine and Yanks Abroad. Alex's latest project, I'm Nobody, is a suspense driven YA/Middle Grade tale about an agoraphobic teen who begins receiving strange, poetic notes from someone claiming to be reclusive, and long dead, poet Emily Dickinson.