Can a crop circle bring a fractured family back together, breathe life into a dwindling town and become the conduit for mending a broken heart? Erica Boyce dives into deep family misgivings in her touching and heartfelt debut novel, The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green. The titular “fifteen” refers to the 14 crop circles Daniel Green has completed plus his newest assignment, which will prove to be unlike any of the others.
In the tiny farming community of Munsen, Vermont, Sam Barts is dying of cancer. When Sam hears about crop circles, he hatches a quirky and unprecedented plan to bring a bit of flair and attention to Munsen before he passes away. Enter Daniel, a young man who travels the country under the guise of being a farmhand but surreptitiously creates crop circles as part of a nationwide group. When Daniel accepts the offer to create the circle in Munsen, he has no idea how deeply involved he will become with this particular family and their struggles to make amends before losing Sam.
Boyce has many strengths as a first-time novelist, including lovely pacing, sensual prose and the ability to capture the warmth of the human spirit through her three narrators. The points of view shift quickly between Daniel; Sam’s daughter, Nessa; and Nessa’s mother, Molly. All struggle with their own secrets and weighty history, which the reader becomes privy to before the other characters, so each bite-size chapters leaves the reader with a growing sense of intimacy.
The unique premise of crop circles as a vessel for new life, a salve for old wounds and an escort to the underworld creates a perfectly addictive storyline. Boyce has crafted a clever and tender novel that is enjoyable in every sense of the word.