My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Loved this one. It is most certainly a bittersweet one for most of the novel. I clicked quickly with Jack. I can easily understand his burning need to matter to someone, to be remembered. Jack is young and young men do make rash choices. Jack makes his share. You can see him digging his own grave. You might even know someone like this. I certainly do. Jack thought Sam would be his ride to stardom, but when the realization he's just a boy toy sets in, Jack makes a threat that would have ruined the director being the 1950s. It's no surprise his ending is tragic at the bottom of a motel pool off route 66.
Sixty years later, Tag Manning is running from his own latest tragedy, one of his own making. Tag is broken inside and has been for years. The son of two very troubled parents, Tag is so walled off he can barely feel anything and is so afraid of losing the people he loves at a time he needs them most, he screwed up his last relationship and took off to find himself on the remnants of Route 66.
What he finds is Jack. Naturally at first Tag thinks he's going insane. By the time he realizes Jack's ghost is real, they're in Vegas, and the seedy side of it, taking up residency in a low-rent room in a hotel run by a bear named, Buddy (who ends up a well developed character in his own right). Tag might think his life is one big screw up but he has one thing going for him: his incredible luck and Vegas is the place to be if you're lucky.
Money doesn't bring him solace but Jack does. Tag falls for the one man who by his very nature will have to leave him once his ghostly energies run out.
This story could have an ending as bittersweet as the rest of it with Jack fading into the Here-after and it would have felt just as organic to the story as an ending where divine/magical intervention steps in to save Jack. You can probably guess which ending it is.
I loved Jack with his wide-eyed enthusiasm and naivete. Tag is a fascinating character, broken and jagged as he is. I'm glad I went along for the ride.