DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Lane receives a startling phone call late one night from her grandfather stating that her cousin, Allegra, has disappeared. He asks her to please come back home, to Kansas, to help find her. Reluctantly, she agrees. When she arrives, she is instantly thrown back into her a wild and unforgettable summer she spent at her grandparents mansion where she first met Allegra. Lane begins to rekindle old friendships and thinks about her time that summer. But as she begins her investigation, old memories come back out, painful truths become known, and the family secret that could ruin everyone begins to wake up.
It isn't often that I begin reading a book and literally on page one, already declare this as a "Book of the Year" candidate. When I do, I am usually right. My gut tells me I will be right with this one too. The way Engel creates tension in this book is brilliant. Told through alternating chapters entitled "Then" and "Now", she masterfully crafts a timeline and flow that is second to none. Engel's character development is unrivaled by anyone in her field. Like an artist painting a masterpiece one stroke at a time, this book slowly tells the reader what he/she needs to know and allows the suspense to build.
From the opening pages the reader begins to be let in on the family secret without being told what it is. Slowly, meticulously, and then all at once, Engel drops the bomb. Rather than let this awkward and possibly off-setting topic ruin the novel, she does this tastefully, giving just enough details to keep the reader hooked. When I was reading this book, I was immersed into an actual setting. When I was not reading this book, I was thinking about it, my mind slowly trying to unravel and process everything she was gifting me.
Back in March, I attended a Penguin/Random House event at my library where a representative came and discussed hot new books coming out. This was the first one mentioned. I not only think this book will win multiple awards, I predict this book will skyrocket Engel to the forefront of her genre. Reflecting on the book, there is nothing I did not like. This is as close to a perfect novel as it gets. The opening, the middle, and the ending. Flawless. If you only read one book this summer, make it this one.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.