The 9:09 Project by Mark H. Parsons

I just finished a profoundly beautiful YA novel, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

17-year-old Jamison has become somewhat unmoored since the death of his mother.  Feeling isolated and lost, he turns to the art she introduced him to – photography – and begins taking photos every day at the same corner at 9:09 p.m., the time of her death.  Although at first the purpose of the project is unclear, it develops a huge following online, inspires others to start similar projects, and becomes the way in which Jamison is able to reconnect with others.

Jamison’s mother had given him, as inspiration, a book of photography by Dorothea Lange, who was known for her unvarnished portrayal of everyday life.  It is this ethos that Jamison aims for in his project.  Cleverly, each chapter of the novel begins with a Dorothea Lange quote.
Mark Parsons is so masterful with character development that I couldn’t help loving Jamison.  I could really sense the hole in his heart, the angst of being a teen in high school who doesn’t quite fit in, and also the elation when he finds love in a girl who really “gets” him.  For that matter, all characters in the novel are vividly portrayed – from Jamison’s classmates and teachers to his dad and sister, who are also dealing with loss in their own ways.

The 9:09 Project is really just a brilliantly written novel about turning to art to get through the darkest of times, being human, and finding connection.  This is a must read for young people, particularly boys, dealing with loss.  Also, there is a lot that would appeal to lovers of photography. One of the themes that emerges is how we carry with us a piece of someone we’ve lost.  Likewise, this is a story that will linger in my heart for some time to come.

Reviewed by Bryan Latimer
Zauel Library