Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Long Way Back

The Long Way Back by Nicole Baart
6/13/23; 384 pages
Atria Books

The Long Way Back by Nicole Baart is a very highly recommended domestic thriller with several surprising twists in the plot.

When her thirteen-year-old daughter Eva begs her for an Instagram page, Charlie, mother to Eva, agrees to open a shared one as mother and daughter. The page is titled The Sutton Girls and a photo Charlie takes of Eva goes viral and the two actually begin to become influencers. After a year, the name of the account is changed to Eva Explores. The two share photos and descriptions of places they traveled, camped, and explored in their vintage Airstream trailer. Charlie is always very careful to never photograph their full faces.

When Eva is ready for her senior year of high school, she asks if the two can settle down so she can attend high school. They temporarily settled in Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Eva has a job and is sending off applications to colleges. Charlie is hoping for one more summer on the road, but Eva isn't interested. The two do take their boat out on the lake one day just before Eva's graduation. When Charlie falls asleep on the boat, Eva disappears and Charlie is the main suspect. But hold on because that is just the first act of this novel. Things are about to get much more complicated and twisty.

The well-written narrative is told through the point of view of Charlie, Eva, Instagram posts, and Eva's college application essays. The presentation of these various plot elements work very well. The novel is almost divided into several sections. They are all interconnected, but each new revelation will be totally unexpected and shocking as it is explored in the novel.

One important point that can be written about is the two largest fears that are tapped into: a child's disappearance and the risks inherent in social media. Both Charlie and Eva are characters you will care about and long the best for in the end. The writing is pitch-perfect as it reveals new information and twists in the plot. Readers will not be able to guess the direction the plot is going to take.

A note must be made about the quality of the writing. Baart does an exceptional job presenting the story in the most caring, suspenseful, and intricate way possible. The Long Way Back goes above and beyond many mother and daughter novels. This will be a perfect choice for book clubs as there is so much that could be discussed.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books via Edelweiss.

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