Sunday, September 2, 2018

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Atria/Emily Bestler Books: 9/4/18
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781501177361

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia is a highly recommended character driven novel of suspense.

Maya Stark, 23, works as a speech therapist at the Congdon Psychiatric Facility in Duluth, Minnesota, but she is also a young woman with a past.  Her mother, Jane, left home and abandoned her when Maya was 10. While her father did the best he could, Maya fell into a rough crowd after that. She also was a patient at Congdon at one time. But after that she pulled herself together, attended college, received her degree, and got her position at Congdon.

When 19-year-old Lucas Blackthorn is admitted to Congdon after a burglary attempt it makes the news because Lucas disappeared along with his father, Josiah, ten years ago while camping in the Boundary Waters area in Northern Minnesota and Canada. They were presumed dead, but here is Lucas, alive and well, although at the hospital because he is uncommunicative - until he meets Maya and seems to recognize her. Their first encounter is violent, but they eventually form a truce and begin to connect. She learns that Josiah is still alive, maybe, and Lucas was just trying to get him help. Lucas, however will not tell her where they were living.

While the narrative follows present day Maya and Lucas, it also reveals the backstory of Maya and Josiah, which makes for some very compelling intense reading. There are some similarities between Maya and Lucas's stories, but also many differences. You can see the motivation behind their actions and thought processes. They are both flawed characters; loners, wary, but also survivors. Maya is a brilliant but flawed character and I was fascinated by her even while I was thinking, "No, don't do that - bad choice!" Maya's background is much more troubled and brutal, but Lucas's survivalist background living alone with his father in the Boundary Waters through the brutal winters you know had to require determination, tenacity, and skill.

Mejia knows how to write an exceptional story and she has given us another very good suspense novel with Leave No Trace. The plot is taunt and riveting with enough action to keep the steady pace moving. The backstory and character development in Leave No Trace set it apart and makes the novel a riveting story. Yes, there are a few moments where you will question Maya's choices and others where you will have to suspend disbelief; but, setting that aside, I know I sat down to read Leave No Trace and finished it that night.

The setting in the Boundary Waters resonated with me because I actually was on a camping and canoeing trip there years ago. I could picture the maps of the area (or dig out my old one) and clearly see how someone could disappear in the area wilderness.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books.

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