Published by Putnam Juvenile on October 11th, 2016
A bittersweet homecoming holds dark secrets in this heart-wrenching story of loss, love, and survival for readers of Room.
When sixteen-year-old Amy returns home, she can’t tell her family what’s happened to her. She can’t tell them where she’s been since she and her best friend, her cousin Dee, were kidnapped six years ago—who stole them from their families or what’s become of Dee. She has to stay silent because she’s afraid of what might happen next, and she’s desperate to protect her secrets at any cost.
Amy tries to readjust to life at “home,” but nothing she does feels right. She’s a stranger in her own family, and the guilt that she’s the one who returned is insurmountable. Amy soon realizes that keeping secrets won’t change what’s happened, and they may end up hurting those she loves the most. She has to go back in order to move forward, risking everything along the way. Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee is a riveting, affecting story of loss and hope.
By now you all know how much I love my dark contemporaries, but in all honesty, I didn’t expect this one to be as dark as it was. I expected it to be more of a creepy doll story, and it was to some extent, but it was a hell of a lot darker than I expected.
I figured out very early on why there were four names in the title. I had my suspicions before I started reading and it didn’t take long to find out that I was right. The dolls do play an important role in the book and it becomes clear quickly what kind of role they play. I am not going to say much more about the dolls because I don’t want to give anything away.
I was so curious about how Amy got away because kidnappers rarely just let their prisoners go. I figured there had to be a reason that she was allowed to leave, but Dee wasn’t. I suspected Dee was dead, but I wasn’t 100% sure on that. I was so curious to know why Amy wouldn’t tell anyone anything. Why she didn’t seem to want to see the kidnapper punished, but at the same time, I understood why she wouldn’t say anything. I had a feeling the guy had threatened her or someone she loved and that’s why she kept quiet for so long.
I was glad that we got to see flashbacks to Amy & Dee’s time with Kyle, their kidnapper. I knew that not only was he horrifyingly violent but also that he wasn’t all together there, mentally speaking. I was glad we got to see how Amy & Dee both dealt with Kyle. It becomes crystal clear that he never wanted both Amy & Dee and that that the true object of his affection was Dee. I won’t go into the horrible stuff he did to Dee, but I think most people can guess. Watching Dee’s descent into a very fragile mental state was just heartbreaking and I just wanted to reach through the book and hug her. The day Kyle kidnapped her and Amy was the day their childhoods really ended.
There was a lot of family stuff in the book too, which I really liked. Amy’s parents are now divorced and her father lives in Colorado, but he flew in the day after Amy returned home and was a constant support in her life along with her mother. My heart broke for Amy’s aunt Hannah and her other cousin Lee because they both wanted answers about Dee, but Amy’s parents refused to push her, which I really liked. I understood aunt Hannah & Lee’s desperation, but Amy needed time. She had just escaped from true horror and she didn’t need to be bombarded with questions immediately.
This book was written so well, I could feel the panic, despair and hopelessness that Amy & Dee felt while they were held captive. It was haunting, much like If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. It definitely brought the feels in the end and I cried a little bit. There are very few books that I read in one sitting, this one was one of those few books.
I was kinda disappointed in the creep factor. Yes, Kyle was a creep, but I was really looking for a bit more of the creepy factor especially since it is so close to Halloween and it was close to Halloween when this book came out last year. Overall, I really did enjoy this one for the contemporary thriller that it was.
Final thoughts: If you like dark contemporaries with strong family dynamics, pick this one up.