Alchemy by Mike Wood is a coming of age novel that I grabbed as a Kindle freebie in 2014.
BLURB: The summer of 1984 was a golden time in America. From California, where gymnast Mary Lou Retton was winning Olympic gold, to Cape Cod, where explorer Barry Clifford was discovering pirate gold, the nation seemed obsessed with the precious metal. But for 15-year old Al, that obsession hits a little too close to home when he finds a code-filled notebook belonging to his missing father that may contain the ancient formula for turning lead to gold. Convinced that his father’s sudden disappearance is connected to his secret experiments in alchemy, Al sets out to find the truth. He enlists the help of Cammie, a beautiful girl staying for the summer while her marine biologist father tracks a wayward manatee, and together they begin unraveling the mystery. But the closer they get to an answer, the closer they grow to each other, and as the end of summer draws nearer, Al wonders if they can break the code without breaking his heart.
COVER: I live a little over two hours away from Cape Cod. This is the perfect cover to draw the reader into the setting where Al lives. I also love how the author works the year the story takes place into the road sign.
FIRST CHAPTER: Told by Al as if he is speaking directly to the reader, he explains the challenge of his name, a bit about his family and his life, and the day he made the mistake of taking a neighbor’s magazine.
KEEP READING: A resounding yes! I remember when I downloaded this book, because it reminded me of my high school years and was set in a place I knew. Even though Wood has Al give the reader a ton of information in the first chapter, I feel it reads like a teenager would speak and is a cohesive sequence of events. Al is funny and engaging, which makes the reader want to keep turning the pages… especially considering how the first chapter ends.*
This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.
*Based upon the ending of the first chapter, this novel may not be appropriate for younger readers.