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Review: Leave No Trace

Review: Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace.jpg

Leave No Trace, Mindy Mejia
To be published September 4, 2018 Atria/Emily Bestler Books
4 Stars

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later...the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

I enjoyed "Everything You Want Me to Be," so I jumped at the opportunity to read an ARC of her new book coming out this fall.
This is definitely an instance where an author's previous work is enough to make me happily pick up a book that falls outside of my usual picks. I bring this up because this book has a lot of content about geology, the vast and unspoiled sections of wilderness still accessible in the United States, and people who love the outdoors. None of those things are appealing to me on a personal level. I hate camping, I assume that most vast wildernesses are hiding either dangerous creatures or serial killers, and while I like looking at the pretty rocks, geology has always been a bit of a snooze for me.
But I still really enjoyed this book.

I like the way Mejia writes, and I like how she carefully builds her themes. More than the central ideas of family, the questions about belonging reach out into the complicated world of social norms and mental health as well. Maya is vastly different from me, and while sometimes it's nice, important even, for the books we read to serve as a mirror, instead the offered me the opportunity to walk in someone else's shoes. 

There are a couple of small mysteries in the story, but as I read I was so involved in the questions of mental health and why society is so unhappy and distrustful of people who opt out of being a part of society, that it was more of an added bonus as a mystery fan than then reason why I was reading the book.

I did appreciate that I read "The Stranger in the Woods" when that came out last year, intrigued more by why than how someone would want to disappear and live off the grid and that served as a great piece of additional context before reading this book. So if you're looking for some reading before the September release date of this book, it would definitely enhance your reading experience.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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