Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dead to you by Lisa McMann

Elven years ago Ethan was taken from his home and his family - he left as a seven year old boy, but now he returns as a sixteen year old.  The last few years have not been easy, he has lived with neglect, and he has even lived on the streets.  Ethan is not the only thing that has changed, so has his family.  Once it was just Ethan, his little brother Blake, and their mom and dad - but now there is a little sister Gracie as well.  It is a lot to take in, for everyone, and the worst thing is that he can't remember what life was like before he went missing, he has fragments of memories, but nothing whole and conclusive.  Blake is standoffish to begin with, but then things turn sour and Blake seems to actively hate him.

Everything is strange for Ethan, he has no real connection to his family, and while his mom tries hard to welcome him home, the rest of the family is not so welcoming.  Blake doesn't believe he is really Ethan, and goes out of his way to make things difficult.  His mom and dad are fighting, and they can't seem to find their rhythm as a family.  When things start to feel like they are settling another bomb shell comes along, one that will change everything forever.

This was an amazing read, and had an ending that I did not see coming, one that just leaves you absolutely dumbfounded (don't worry no spoilers).  Ethan is complicated and haunted, he wants to settle back into his family but he has a loyalty to the person who was his mother all those years, and he doesn't feel like he is really accepted.  Blake is the forgotten child who was pushed to the side while everyone searched for Ethan, and then had to sit by the sidelines when Gracie was born.  Gracie is suspicious and charming all at once, showing a child's innocence by accepting a brother she never knew - but it does take time.  And the parents fight and argue and struggle to keep their family together now that it is back together - an achingly realistic portrayal of what parents must go through when reunited with a child after so many years, especially when there are complications with a younger sibling like Blake.

I loved this book and highly recommend it for people who like real life reads, especially ones that cover emotional topics such as kidnappings and reunions.  Ethan is a dynamic character, and while in some ways the book was not as in depth as it could have been, it allows you to experience the emotions more readily and keeps the momentum of the story moving towards the gripping and dramatic climax.

If you like this book then try:
  • The face on the milk carton by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Beneath a meth moon by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Island of the blue dolphins by Scott O'Dell
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  • You are my only by Beth Kephart
  • Girl, missing by Sophie McKenzie

Reviewed by Brilla

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