A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley.)
15-year-old Carey has been living in a caravan in the woods for years. Her drug-addict mother comes and goes, and Carey is left to look after her 6-year-old mute sister.
One day a man and a woman turn up at their home in the woods, the man claims to be Carey’s father, and the woman is from social services – Carey’s mother has written a letter saying that she can no longer look after the girls and has asked social services to find them in the woods and take them into care.
Carey’s father explains that he had custody of Carey because of her mother’s drug abuse, and that Carey’s mother kidnapped her and hid her in the woods so that he couldn’t take her away from her.
Now Carey and Janessa will be going to live with Carey’s father.
What happened in the woods though? Why doesn’t Janessa speak? And how long will it take for Carey and Janessa to get used to the real world?
This wasn’t really what I was expecting, I thought there would be more about the ‘finding’ of Carey, than what happened after she was found.
Carey seemed quite mature most of the time, but then quite immature at other moments. Obviously she had been forced to grow up as she had been left to look after her little sister since she was born. Carey was more of a mother to Jenessa than her real mother ever was, and it was pretty harsh that Carey’s mother had basically abandoned them.
Carey’s mother was addicted to drugs, and made money to buy drugs through prostitution. Carey and Jenessa survived with very little clothing and very meagre food rations. I personally didn’t quite understand why Carey’s mother had bothered to kidnap her seeing as she then left her alone in the woods most of the time, I couldn’t decide if it was just to spite Carey’s father, because she was delusional from the drugs, or because she thought she could use Carey to make money.
I never considered the fact that Jenessa didn’t speak to be such a mystery. I figured that it was in response to something bad that happened in the woods, but I personally was more invested in finding out what happened to Carey. She was a strong character, but to me it seemed obvious that this strength was hard won, and as much of a response to something bad happening as was Jenessa’s silence.
I liked the storyline in this book, but I thought we would have had more time spent on the finding of Carey and Janessa, instead of going straight into what happened to them after they were found. I also wondered what exactly had happened to their mother, as this wasn’t really covered, we knew that she had sent a letter to social services and disappeared, but we didn’t know how or why.
Overall; I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
7 out of 10.