Newbery Medal winner Linda Sue Park starts it all with a girl named Maggie; her grief for her grandfather, world-renowned photojournalist George Gee Keane; and her inheritance, a puzzling wooden box of seven shells. Simply titled Click, this collaborative novel to benefit Amnesty International continues Gee's adventures in chapters written by 10 critically acclaimed authors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, including Eoin Colfer, Tim Wynne-Jones, Ruth Ozeki, Nick Hornby and Gregory Maguire.
Gee loves the feeling of moving through the world, light and free, moving through other people's stories. This love takes him to a Russian prison just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, where he meets Lev, a 17-year-old inmate incarcerated for simply trying to survive in his war-torn country. He meets other young people during his global travels, such as Vincent in Dublin for the 1972 Muhammad Ali fight at Croke Park and Jiro in Tokyo while photographing the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.
Gee makes the biggest impact, however, on his own family. Maggie, through her study of Gee's works, and her adopted brother, Jason, through his own budding career as a photographer, discover Gee's never-ending mysteries and the power of photography. Throughout the novel, this power has a way of recognizing and healing grief and abuse, forming identity and family, and finding understanding and even joy in a time of war.
While readers might expect a folktale-like narrative from a writer like David Almond, an irreverent working-class family from Roddy Doyle or a magical, parallel world from Margo Lanagan, they couldn't possibly predict how each author will weave details from previous chapters into his or her own part of the story. The chapters, like single snapshots, form an exhibition of Gee's life, at times mystical or heart-wrenching, at other times amusing or fantastical, but always intriguing.
Angela Leeper is an educational consultant and writer in Wake Forest, North Carolina.