A power thriller from acclaimed author Jessica Warman explores how sometimes unspeakable things are hidden in memories . . .
Gr 9 Up—It only took a few moments for Sam's life to change forever. On New Year's Eve, 1986, Sam, seven, and her best friend and neighbor, Remy, are the only witnesses to the abduction of Sam's little sister, Turtle, age four. In the aftermath, the two children struggle to tell police everything they remember. In the end, Sam's older sister's boyfriend is convicted and her family is devastated as her sister is never found. Sam's family eventually moves away only to return 10 years later to try and reconcile themselves with the tragedy that still haunts them. Their return brings back memories for Sam as she reconnects with Remy and she begins to wonder: did they tell the truth that fateful night? Is the wrong man in jail? The story unfolds through flashbacks, excerpts from a true crime book written about the case, and events during the summer of 1996. However, the eventual denouement is too rushed, leaving more questions than answers. Sam is a sympathetic character, but readers never really get to know her, despite being in her head for most of the book. The characters' motivations and development is haphazard, and while the story contains lots of tension that fans of the genre will love, the ending may leave them frustrated. This fragmented tale doesn't feel fully stitched together. VERDICT A tense ride of a story that fails to deliver.—Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA
Ten years after the widely publicized kidnapping of Sam's baby sister, Turtle, Sam and her family return to live in the home where the abduction took place.In a detail-rich, nostalgic narrative voice, Sam describes the fateful night and its aftermath. It was 1986; Sam was 7 and Turtle, 4. Alternating chapters take readers to 1996, when Sam and her altered, numbed family return to Shelocta. Sam's older sister, Gretchen, whose much-older boyfriend was eventually convicted of Turtle's murder, has come back to Shelocta from Texas; Hannah, the 5-year-old sister everyone agrees is serving as Turtle's replacement in her parents' minds, flits innocently through the action, unaware of her family's history. Tension among family members and with old neighbors, former acquaintances, and Sam's childhood best friend drives the largely atmospheric story forward. Interspersed throughout are excerpts from the book an investigative journalist has written about Turtle's case. These interview transcripts and outsider descriptions of family members add to the pervasive sense of distance and fragility in a community blown apart by trauma. Oddly, the resolution is far more plot-based than the lead-up would suggest. Many of the character-based questions (When will Hannah learn about what happened to Turtle? What sort of relationship will Sam and Remy have now?) go unanswered.Hauntingly written but leaves readers wondering, what now? (Mystery. 14 & up)
"[E]ngrossing: a deeper exploration into the long-term ramifications a child abduction wreaks upon a family. Asuspenseful and haunting look at the uncertainty of memory." Booklist
"There’s mystery upon mystery here, but they’re all imbued with tenderness and tragedy, and the final, supernaturally touched puzzle is genuinely surprising and original." starred review, BCCB on BEAUTIFUL LIES
"The novel's tension and persuasive sense of dread should captivate readers." Publishers Weekly on BEAUTIFUL LIES
"An excellent recreational read for young adults looking for genuine shock and surprise." VOYA on BEAUTIFUL LIES
"The twins' culturally barren, dreary yet violent world--a realm of broken dreams--resonates . . . in this haunting, moody, character-driven thriller." Kirkus Reviews on BEAUTIFUL LIES
"It's been a while since The Lovely Bones was in every high school backpack; this is a strong contender to take its place." starred review, BCCB on BETWEEN
"A perfect read for teens who like complex characters." starred review, Booklist on BETWEEN
"Dramatic and unpredictable . . . A page-turner to the bittersweet ending." starred review, Kirkus Reviews on WHERE THE TRUTH LIES
"Achingly realistic . . . with rare, refreshing honesty and flashes of wry humor." starred review, Booklist on BREATHLESS
"Characterization is vivid and exquisite . . . tender and intimate." starred review, BCCB on BREATHLESS
- Bloomsbury USA
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 - 17 Years
Meet the Author
Jessica Warman is the author of Breathless, Where the Truth Lies, Between, and Beautiful Lies, which have received seven starred reviews among them. Between was published in a total of twelve countries around the world. Jessica has an MA in creative writing and recently moved to Houston, Texas.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It was New Years Eve and his suit was all too familiar, the bright red with the white fur outlining his coat, the beard was the dead giveaway but this guy was way too skinny and given the timeline, he really should be in the North Pole. Upon further investigation, his actions were all wrong for his character, as he appeared inside their house, snatching up their little sister and never returning her. Yes, Santa took their sister. Actually it was Steven, Gretchen’s former boyfriend dressed up like Santa who committed this horrible crime, it was his teeth that led investigators to him. It was the summer of 1985 and Jessica Warman allows us, as readers, to relive this terrible time in history through the eyes of Sam, the sister of Turtle the child who was abducted. Sam was there that night and claims she saw Santa/Steven take Turtle. What shocked me was that Gretchen is Sam and Turtle’s older sister, her boyfriend was the offender. What an issue to deal with as a family. Sam had a great friend and neighbor, Remy who was her everything. They were inseparable growing up and even now dealing with this tragic event, he had her back. It reminded me of the days growing up, having a best friend who was always there day and night just outside your door, that you could run over and talk to on the stoop or just be silly with for no reason at all, that was Sam and Remy. This terrible event causes the family to move away, an author writes a book highlighting the event surrounding the abduction and then years later the family must return to the house they had rented out, for they have no other option. Remy and Sam’s relationship is distant, this feeling I was not ready for. What caused this distance between them, I adored their relationship but I knew Warman had more in store for me; she was always full of surprises. As Sam helps Remy’s mother with some cleaning she uncovers some photos which brings back some childhood memories, I love how she cherishes those memories even when her relationship with Remy is challenged at the moment. Retreating to the tree house she once shared with him, comfort and the nostalgia surrounding her, she reminisces about her childhood afternoons they spent there. I long for their relationship to get back on track, are they ignoring each other for a reason? This novel is a comfortable, relaxing mystery shifting from the present day when the family returns to their home where the abduction took place and then back in history when the actual abduction took place. Jessica Warman is one of my favorite author’s and although this one is not one of my favorites of hers, it really had a lot of twists, surprises and was great read on a rainy day. 4.5 stars
Will purchase more of this author s books!
Slow paced and not that interesting.