In Johnston’s sorrowful and suspenseful first adult novel, a family is forced to face its worst nightmare when one of its members goes missing. Caitlin Courtland, an 18-year-old runner about to enter college on a track scholarship, is vacationing with her family in the Rockies when she fails to come back from an early morning run. Over the course of the next two years, the family fractures as no sign of Caitlin is ever found. Grant Courtland, Caitlin’s father, remains in the Rockies, while mother Angela tries to pick up the pieces back home in Wisconsin, where she eventually makes a failed attempt at suicide. Meanwhile, Caitlin’s younger brother, Sean, drives aimlessly around the country, getting in and out of trouble. Although it begins as one more variation on Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, a late-in-the-novel coincidence sends the narrative in a new direction and turns it into a survival story involving a character who, heretofore, has played a relatively minor part in the drama. Johnston (Irish Girl) has a poet’s eye for the majestic and forbidding nature of the Rockies, and a sociologist’s understanding of how people act under pressure. He also has a knack for creating characters that the reader will come to care about, no matter how flawed they are. Combining domestic drama with wilderness adventure, Johnston has created a hybrid novel that is as emotionally satisfying as it is viscerally exciting. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/13/2014 Release date: 01/01/2015 Genre: Fiction
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