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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

ARC Review: Right Where You Left Me by Calla Devlin

https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=as_li_qf_sp_sr_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=onderherose-20&keywords=right where you left me&index=aps&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=xm2&linkId=4d53de7c40e7945f78cfd71e51cf824b
Please Note:  I received an advance reader's copy of this novel from the publisher, and agreed to give an honest review as part of the promotional blog tour for this book.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.  Additionally, I have linked the book cover to Amazon.  If you buy the book through this link, I do get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In search of the perfect story to put a human face on a tragedy for his newspaper, my dad will fly into the eye of the storm. And now he’s heading to Ukraine, straight into the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. I don’t want him to leave. I don’t want to spend the week alone in a silent house with my mother, whose classically Russian reserve has built a wall between us that neither of us knows how to tear down. But I don’t tell him this. I don’t say stay.

I think I’m holding it together okay—until the FBI comes knocking on our door. Now it’s all I can do to fight off the horrifying images in my head. The quake has left so many orphans and widows, but Mom and I refuse to be counted among them. Whatever it takes to get Dad back, I’ll do it. Even if it means breaking a promise…or the law.


Review: 
About a year ago, I had the great pleasure of reading Calla Devlin's first novel,  Tell Me Something Real.  It was an emotional roller-coaster of a book!  I loved it.  So when the publisher offered an advance reader's copy of the author's next book, Right Where You Left Me, I couldn't resist.

Although these books very different, they both explore the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters.  With foggy San Francisco as a backdrop, the compelling story of Charlotte's missing father pushes her to confront her challenging relationship with her mom.  If her dad doesn't come home, can Charlotte and her mom continue as a family?  The sense of impending doom is palatable.

What I Liked:
Setting:
Okay, I am very biased here.  I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so any book set here is one I will be partial to.  But the author's descriptions of specific neighborhoods are so vivid, I must assume that she has lived in San Francisco at some point in her life.  There is simply too much love in her descriptions to have been made up.  Now I want to revisit the areas Calla Devlin has placed the story, walk the streets, and fall in love with San Francisco all over again!

Food:
The Russian bakery items that Charlotte's mom, Valentina, makes are prominently featured as part of this book!  The descriptions of bird's milk cake, rogaliki, and Tulskie prianiki are mouth-watering!  I thought making sharlotka the dessert that she associates with Josh (her crush) to be so clever because of how Charlotte and sharlotka sound so similar.
Bird's Milk Cake

Rogaliki

Tulskie Prianiki
Sharlotka

Characters:
Charlotte and her mom, Valentina, are both complex characters.  Valentina is distant and is not very affectionate with her daughter, making Charlotte feel isolated and unloved.  At first, I thought she was a little bratty for feeling this way, but as the book slowly unfolded, we begin to understand why Charlotte feels this way.

Charlotte is also very conflicted about many aspect of her life.  She is attracted to Josh, but knows her friends don't approve of him. She also thought she  wanted to be a journalist, like her dad.  But she is also drawn to photography and art.  Can she disappoint her dad (if he ever returns), given what he has gone through?

Valentina is Russian and immigrated to the United States when she married Charlotte's dad, Jeremiah.  Although it seems like they are living a happy life, tragedy lurks in the corners.  Their first child, Lena, died as an infant, and when Charlotte was born, Valentina suffered a stroke.  Does her mom blame Charlotte for causing her stroke?  Does she resent that Charlotte is alive while Lena isn't?

There is so much misunderstanding on both sides.  It is rather heart-breaking, yet I get how people's perceptions can cause a rift in a relationship.

What I Was Mixed About:
I thought the main event in the book was a bit too easily resolved.  As it was pointed out in the book, these situations can continue for years.  However, I think that unless you want an epic saga that spans a decade, resolving the event was a smart move.



                                                                  

Rating: 




Release Date:  September 5th, 2017

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing


Length:  256 pages

Source:  Publisher (Thank you!)

Format:  ARC Paperback 

Recommendation: A fast-paced drama that encompasses larger than life incidents along with small, intense moments of truth.  This is an absorbing novel.
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