Saturday 1 June 2013

Dead To You by Lisa McMann

There are three of them.  No, four.
They step off the Amtrak train into the snowy dusk, children first and adults after, and then they hesitate, clustered on the platform.  Passengers behind them shove past, but the four – Blake, Gracie, Dad, Mama – just move a few more steps and stop again, look around.  Their faces are an uneasy yellow in the overhead light from the station.  Mama looks most anxious.  She peers in the darkness under the awning where I stand just six metres away, as if she knows instinctively that I am here, but no confirmation registers on her face.  I am invisible, still in the shadows.
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Published by Scholastic in May 2013
288 pages
Some memories are better left untouched. Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...
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Reviewed by Caroline Hodges
What would happen if your sister or brother disappeared one day then was found, 9 years later and reintroduced to your family?  Dead to You is written from the point of view of Ethan, the abducted son and brother as he tries to adjust to being back with his family.
I whizzed through this book in a day or two, it was very compulsive reading and for the most part realistic.  The awkward way his mother and father and brother Blake act as they try to get used to him being around again compared to his sister Gracie’s reaction to him (Gracie wasn’t even alive to know Ethan as his younger self) is well written and believable.  Gracie in particular is loveable and I think goes the furthest in anchoring Ethan to the family when times are rough and he considers running away.  Then there is Ethan’s old friend Cami who took baths with him as a kid and now is definitely more in girl friend rather than best friend territory.  
Ethan himself is probably one of the best YA male leads I’ve read written by a female author.  His romance with Cami is utterly believable though I’m not entirely sure that from Cami’s point of view, she’d so quickly adjust, and indeed deepen a relationship, with someone who has been missing for more years than she knew him originally.  
But the ending of Dead to You will I think leave you in one of two categories, no matter how much you’ve been enjoying the book along the way.  You will either love it or hate it.  Like marmite.  I think I find myself falling into the hate it category.  If you’re paying attention, the hints are all there along the way as to what will happen.  As the ending approached, I think I’d realised how it was going to end but desperately didn’t want it to happen.  But it’s not so much what happens at the end as how it happens, how McMann writes it.  It’s so abrupt, so quick and leaves so many things hanging it kind of annoyed me.  Yeah it’s a short book, but I made the time to read it and you end it like that?!  Grrr!  For the most part sure, cliff-hangers are usually fun in an intense can’t-wait-to-know-what-happens kinda way, the trouble is, there is no sequel to this novel and there never will be.
Having said that, it’s worth a read, I still gave it 4 stars on Good Reads for the intriguing concept and high quality, engaging writing.    


  1. I LOVED Dead to You, but the ending killed me. I'm definitely one of those who would have prefered a different one... :(
    And I agree, it was way too abrupt.
    Great review! :)

  2. Fab review - I've heard varying things about this book but you have peaked my curiosity to read it


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