Where You Can Find Me by Sheri Joseph
While there has been a fair share of novels in recent memory that have tackled the growing concern of child abduction, the latest offering by Sheri Joseph takes this a step further by focusing on the aftermath: what happens when a kidnapped child returns home.
Caleb Vincent was taken from his family at 11 years old. The three years that he was gone have taken their inevitable toll on the Vincent family with each member dealing with the tragedy in their own unique way: Marlene, the mother, stages a search and rescue organization a la John Walsh. Jeff, the father, becomes crippled with grief and a quiet acceptance that Caleb has been killed by the abductor. Lark, Caleb’s little sister, is forced to live an unrealistic existence, practically in a bubble, smothered by her mother’s constant fear that the same fate could happen to her.
When Caleb is suddenly returned to the family at age 14 everyone’s lives are shifted topsy-turvy and no one seems to know how to handle this remarkable event. Trying to avoid any more unnecessary publicity and intrusion into their lives Marlene makes the drastic decision to flee with the children to Costa Rica, where Jeff’s mother lives. It is there they plan on rebuilding their lives in the comfort and seclusion of the rain forest. The story quickly escalates as more local and familial characters are introduced, most notably Jeff’s brother Lowell, the “fun uncle” who takes it upon himself to help Caleb readjust to life in the Vincent household.
The author spins a fast-paced story using the hot, steamy, and colorful landscapes of Costa Rica to propel her tale. A surprise twist half-way through the book may shock some readers, but ends with an interesting yet ambiguous result. The novel does an exceptional job of getting into the head of Caleb, especially during the frequent flashbacks to his time in captivity. The character study of the abductor is also fascinating and the passages detailing his Svengali-type influence are not an easy read.
If you are a fan of Barbara Kingsolver or Jacquelyn Mitchard you will most likely enjoy this engrossing tale of family ties, broken promises, and the power of redemption.
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