For thirty years Tom has remained within his house, spending his days raising silkworms. One day his sister invites their young neighbour Joseph, to draw Tom's portrait for a school assignment. While essentially a straight forward task, none of the participants could have anticipated its far reaching effects.
The metaphor of silkworms living their entire life within the confines of a shoe box , is akin to the internal walls each of us erect, whether they're to keep thoughts or people out, or to protect us from previous experiences. As Tom starts to break down the walls he has erected, Joseph finds that he is enjoying Tom's company more that he expected was possible. He then confides to Tom his fears of 'the running man', a local eccentric. With Tom's guidance, Joseph unlocks the mystery of 'the running man' and gains insights into life that many of us don't realize until we are much older.
I have to admit that I was floored by this book. I expected that Joseph would do the portrait, get to know Tom a little bit and that would be it. But his small practical assignment soon grew to life altering proportions, and not just for Joseph. He realized he could have turned away at many times, but he stuck to the harder path and ended up finding the greatest rewards.
I would highly recommend this novel to adults and teens alike.
Thanks to Harper Collins for the cover photo.