Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

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When a 14-year-old girl disappears, her mother’s worst nightmare is realized. Rachel’s daughter, Marley, left her phone and computer sitting at home, but packed a backpack full of clothing and left a note for her mother which read “Don’t Try to Find Me”. At first, Rachel believes her daughter must have been kidnapped by someone who made her write the note, but the evidence piles high and she is forced to accept that her sweet, average, non-rebellious daughter is a runaway.

Marley is tired of being ignored, tired of being cast aside, tired of being unremarkable to everyone. She wants to start fresh, away from her neurotic mother, her domineering and detached father, her psychiatrist who rejected her when she asked for help, her cruel, self absorbed friends…She wants to be with someone who truly appreciates her. And she thinks she may have found that. Online.

Take a journey through the lives of a family torn apart by social media in every way…This novel is what I would call “Suspense” but it also has a lot of emotional depth as you get deeper and deeper into the very personal thoughts of very ordinary people, when things get very out-of-the-ordinary without any warning whatsoever. I would say that readers of Emily Arsenault and other similar novelists will enjoy Don’t Try to Find Me, by Holly Brown.

Find out if Marley will ever come home…Will she even have an option?

Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

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Muriel Sullivant was the third child in her family. Her older sister, Pia, was a picture of perfection, especially in her mother’s eyes. Her older brother had an impenetrable relationship with her father. She always felt like the chubby, messy, hopeless tagalong. Now that she is an adult, she still struggles to have a deep conversation with her father, and her mother still disapproves of her diet, her job, her apartment, her lack of a love life. She can’t help but wonder why she has always felt so displaced.

One day, her sister Pia shows up at her house and she is bombarded with a horrible truth. Her sister is dying, and she wants Muriel to make sure that her funeral wishes are carried out. Muriel is blown away, but she cannot deny her sister a final wish…Then comes the biggest blow…She also wants Muriel to keep it a secret that she’s dying, from everyone…Including their mother. Muriel assents to her sister’s request, but the pressure of the situation leads her to dig a little deeper into her family’s past and secrets. And what she discovers after her sister dies is life-changing.

Two Sisters, by Mary Hogan, is ripe with growing pains and the usual emotions on the journey of sisterhood, but if you are hoping for something cozy and sweet and “girl-power”, this novel will not take you there. Two sisters is raw and heart-wrenching, and takes the reader to sadder places. Muriel finds resolution-the truth sets her free. Bring your tissue box if you think this one sounds like your next read…And maybe some chocolates too.

Safe Within by Jean Reynolds Page

Elaine Forsyth and her fading husband, Carson, moved into her parents’ full-sized treehouse by the lake so that he can spend his remaining days in peace. Moving back to where they grew up brings up some old, un-faced issues that Elaine finds herself confronted with at every turn. Her mother-in-law, Greta, has never approved of Elaine, and refuses to talk to her or acknowledge that her son is the father of Elaine’s son, Mick. Mick is dealing with his own skeletons, as he spends the summer with his mother, grieving the loss of his father and tracing his old steps, only to find that there is a secret involving his past girlfriend that everyone in town seems to know about, except for him.

This is a novel about tieing up the loose ends of your life and finding closure where you least expect it, and it is a novel about making your own family, regardless of history or even genetics-family and life are what you make them. Grief, loss, and letting go of the past so you can move forward, all factor into this surprisingly uplifting story by Jean Reynolds Page, which stresses that even though you can’t change the past, you can always try to do better with the present.

If you like women’s fiction you will enjoy this novel, especially if you liked A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary, or The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo.