Don’t Try To Find Me (8 July 2014) by Holly Brown


Don't Try to Find MeDon’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank William Morrow/HarperCollins publishers for my advance reader’s copy of Don’t Try To Find Me. This novel was interesting to read and review, in part because it was not what I expected.
Don’t Try To Find Me is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Marley, a 13-year-old girl who is “missing,” and her mother Rachel, who is desperately trying to find out what has happened to her daughter. Given the promotional comparisons to Gone Girl, Don’t Try to Find Me was a lot less edgy than I thought it would be. However, this novel, which straddled the line between adult and young adult fiction, was still a pleasure to read.
What I found most compelling about Don’t Try To Find Me was the character development of Marley, Rachel, and the father and husband, Paul. They are all, in their own ways, trying to find themselves, as well as exploring how their relationships with each other may have led to Marley’s disappearance. So to me, this book was more about relationships, self-respect, and identity, than about shock value or violence. However, this focus meant that at times, the discussions between Rachel and Paul, or Rachel’s own muddled self-evaluation, seemed overlong.
I definitely found the chapters narrated by Marley to be most intriguing. Her character, angry, smart, but also full of the self-doubt of being a young teenager, was relatable and easy to care about. Rachel, on the other hand, was so self-absorbed and scatterbrained, that I often cringed at her actions and thoughts.
It’s difficult to go into more detail about Don’t Try To Find Me without giving away key elements of the plot, but what I will say is that I was surprised by how tame the story turned out to be. This is not to say that some truly terrible things did not occur, but, given the buildup at the beginning, as well as the reactions Marley and Rachel had to their experiences, I had expected things would get worse than they did. Especially in the case of Rachel, her own concept of how traumatizing her marriage was did not impress me.
One reason I was initially attracted to Don’t Try To Find Me was that promotional descriptions implied a cutting edge use of the internet in the novel. While emails and Facebook played a part in the story, social media was not utilized in any way that I found especially ground-breaking.
For all this, I did enjoy Holly Brown’s debut novel. My main critique, which is not one that I have often, is that it could have had more impact if it had played it less safe. I never felt much of a sense of true danger. More than anything, Don’t Try To Find Me was a novel about finding oneself, and about growing up. In this, it was a satisfying read.

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