Alaric lives in the crumbling Withern Rise house with his widowed father. Nothing has been the same since his mother's death in a train accident two years ago. Now his dad is off helping his girlfriend get ready to move in with them, and his crazy Aunt Liney is there to keep an eye on him. Miserable, he touches a carving his mother made of the house from wood from the family tree years ago and finds himself transported to a parallel universe where a girl, Naia, is living his life--only with their mother still alive.
This is definitely a book for teens that I feel does not cross over easily to adults. Alaric is unrelatably angsty, unless you yourself are a similarly hormonal teenager. The parallel worlds are interesting, but not nearly as creatively done as, say, Stephen King's. What I find interesting as an adult, Aunt Liney and her role, is largely ignored. Similarly, Naia's motivations for participating in the world traveling are unclear.
All of that said, I could see a teenager enjoying this story. Particularly one upset with his parents or wishing his life was minutely different in some way. I thus recommend it to a teen into fantasy and the concept of parallel universes.