Cover of I Will Find You Again by Sarah Lyu. Two Asian teen girls embrace

Cover Story: ‘Disappointed’
Drinking Buddy: Deep Breaths
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (drug use, language)
Talky Talk: Unreliable Narrator
Bonus Factors: Awful Parents, Ambition at Any Cost
Bromance Status: Until We Meet Again

Cover Story: ‘Disappointed’

My sixteen-year-old-daughter, Sophie, saw this cover and said “I’ve never read this book, but I’m already disappointed in it.” She went on a screed about how it was going to be the tropey story of a good girl falling for a bad boy (the obscured faces hid the fact this was a lesbian romance) and that Meadowbrook was a lame name for a neighborhood. While she guessed the plot wrong (even after reading the plot description), this cover utterly turned her off.

The Deal:

Chase Ohara is going to be the valedictorian of her ritzy high school. A track star. An up and comer. Destined to be a CEO, an attorney, a senator. But it’s trying, being number one at everything. Which is why she has to take pills sometimes, just to keep going.

For a while, she had Lia. Lia, the daughter of a TV star, who appreciated Chase for who she was. Not as smart or as driven as Chase, she allowed them both to be themselves. Two girls in love. Forever.

Until things all went south. Until words were said. Until Lia ends up dating Hunter, the cute, very wealthy Dutch girl. Until Lia mysteriously vanishes…

Drinking Buddy: Deep Breaths

Two pints of beer cheersing

Chase’s distant parents expect her to exceed at everything she does, and are ignoring the fact that she’s rapidly burning out. Lia, a Korean girl adopted by a white family, feels like an outsider. Her mother, a celebrity chef, likes to have Lia on the show, but more like a prop. That’s how they find each other. That’s how they go from friends to lovers.

But Lia is a little clingy. She doesn’t want Chase to go to a summer program at Stanford. Constantly wants to go hang out on her parents’ yacht. Gets needy. Finally, Chase can’t take it any more. And then Lia takes up with Hunter. Has Chase made a terrible mistake?

But then Chase gets the text message ‘Meet Me in Montauk.’ That’s where her parents keep the family boat. But that’s also Lia’s SOS. She needs Chase. And Chase comes. But Lia is not there. In fact, she’s not anywhere. Is Lia hiding? Did she change her mind about meeting Chase? Or is something insidious going on?

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (drug use, language)

This book was a lot of angsty flashbacks and longing. Things don’t really get exciting until the second half of the book, when Chase starts selling test answers for her drug dealer in order to figure out what really happened to Chase. I could have used a slight revving up of the pace.

Talky Talk: Unreliable Narrator

So if you’re going to have an unreliable narrator, the reader either needs to know that right from page one (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) or find out as a twist at the end (Fight Club). This book, however, sprung it on us as almost the exact middle of the novel. There were not enough ‘something’s not right’ hints for us not to take everything Chase says at at face value. And then when we find out the truth, we still have over a hundred pages to go, which diminishes the big reveal. Personally, I think we needed a Shutter Island type of mind screw, rather than the ‘oh, now I get it,’ reveal.

Bonus Factor: Awful Parents

Darth Vader reaching out to Luke Skywalker, proclaiming 'I am your father'

So Lia was adopted from Korea by an Italian-American family. Her mother is a celebrity chef and loves to have Lia on the show, especially at Christmas when they make gingerbread houses. But the thing is, Lia kind of feels like an extra on the show. The minority token. When she and Chase start hanging out, her parents hope Chase, who is also Asian-American, will teach her about her heritage (Chase is not, in fact, Korean). And when Lia vanishes, well, she has an Asian friend who can kind of just step in, right?

Bonus Factor: Ambition at Any Cost

Chase is so determined to succeed at everything she does, she’s not above taking some amphetamines just to stay in the game. And when search for Lia stagnates, she’s willing to make a deal with her drug dealer for more information. But wasn’t it this drive that drove Lia away in the first place? Is it Chase’s fault that Lia is gone?

Bromance Status: Until We Meet Again

Maybe not this book, but I’ll read more by this author.

Literary Matchmaking

Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why also deals with the mysterious loss of a girl.

A Very, Very Bad Thing

A Very, Very Bad Thing by Jeffery Self has terrible parents who use their gay kid for their own personal agenda.

Hate List

You never know what demons someone is dealing with, as we see in Jennifer Brown’s Hate List.

FCC full disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher, but no money or little pink pills.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.