Review: Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

Don't Try To Find Me: A Novel

“Don’t try to find me.”

With those words, fourteen year-old Marley sets off every parents’ worst nightmare — your child running away from home, vanishing without a trace. The only clues are how thoroughly Marley went to cover her tracks, including erasing her tablet and clearing out messages from her e-mail in-box, cell phone and her social media accounts.

Marley’s parents, Rachel and Paul throw themselves into trying to figure out why their daughter would board a Greyhound bus and attempt to vanish. Paul throws himself into the crisis, embracing the role of the father trying to hold his family together while Rachel realizes that the intense scrutiny may bring up some secrets she doesn’t necessarily want shared with her husband, much less the rest of the world.

And while these secrets are devastating to Rachel, Paul and Marley, author Holly Brown wisely keeps the secrets fairly restrained and doesn’t indulge the temptation to make them overly melodramatic or predictable. The reader is clued in early that things aren’t necessarily what they seem and that both narrators (Rachel and Marley take turns narrating chapters) aren’t necessarily reliable or telling us the whole story. The back and forth of the chapters as each secret and the consequences of certain decisions are played out for each of the characters helps keep the story moving forward and keeps raising questions that are (thankfully) all answered by time we get to the final pages of the novel.

It’s interesting to see that the marketing blurbs compare this book to Gone Girl and Reconstructing Amelia. While I understand the temptation to hype every book coming on the market told from the point of view from two (or more) unreliable narrators, I think that marketing Don’t Try to Find Me along those lines is a disservice to this book. The book is more along the lines of Reconstructing Amelia with much of the mystery and suspense coming from how little the parents in question know about their teenage children. Luckily Don’t Try to Find Me can have a happier ending since Marley has only vanished and is trying to disappear from the grid and start a new life, but the questions of just how well you can and should know your children and what you can and should know about their friends (both in real life and on-line) will linger with you long after the final page is turned.

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