On the night of Alex Carmody’s sixteenth birthday, she and her best friend, Cass, are victims of a terrible car accident. Alex survives; Cass doesn’t. Consumed by grief, Alex starts cutting school and partying, growing increasingly detached. The future she’d planned with her friend is now meaningless to her.
Meg Carmody is heartbroken for her daughter, even as she’s desperate to get Alex’s life back on track. The Birches, a boarding school in New Hampshire, promises to do just that, yet Alex refuses to go. But when Meg finds a bag of pills hidden in the house, she makes a fateful call to a transporter whose company specializes in shuttling troubled teens to places like The Birches, under strict supervision. Meg knows Alex will feel betrayed—as will her estranged husband, who knows nothing of Meg’s plans for their daughter.
When the transport goes wrong—and Alex goes missing—Meg must face the consequences of her decision and her deception. But the hunt for Alex reveals that Meg is not the only one keeping secrets.
This book was engaging enough to read, but I didn't find the plot to be terribly novel or engaging.
Upon reading the blurb, I assumed that Alex would be kidnapped or something metaphysical would happen or something extraordinary. Spoiler alert: it's just a car crash and she wanders off by herself like any intelligent human teenager would do. The blurb implied a lot of suspense that wasn't delivered.
From there, the plot honestly isn't that riveting. At no point while reading was I ever on the edge of my seat, concerned about the character's lives. It took a good half of the book to build up to the actual disappearance, and while I enjoyed the first half of the book more, it was let down by the ending turning into a wild goose chase. Reading about the family dynamic was much more interesting.
Alex was fun to read about, and I enjoyed details such as her calling one lady Mom Hair and folding her gum wrappers into Ws all the time. Seeing her struggle and hearing about all of her history was intriguing and I felt that for a teenage character she was well developed and while Donovan did make her extremely angsty, she avoided making her childish.
I'm glad this was told from third person, because otherwise switching from Carl's to Meg's to Alex's perspectives would have become confusing very quickly. Carl was a fun character with an interesting backstory and it was entertaining to see him moving forward, but he also didn't really fit in with the other two, and his perspective felt continually out of place.
This book's strongest aspect was honestly the family dynamic and looking at the process of divorce/separation and how it affected the children. There was one really poignant scene when Alex's friend called Alex's parents out for fighting, and that scene was by far the most powerful one of the book.
This wasn't necessarily a bad read, but nothing really stood out to me and I had much higher expectations.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.