Available May 21st
Received from Publisher for Review
Hardcover 320 pages
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She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.
Meg- Meg is the older sister. She's hurting from all this running, being in witness protection. She's angry at her father. He won't tell her what he did to get them in this situation and it makes her more angry and withdrawn every time they have to move. Six moves in eight months. She has rules now about not getting attached to anyone. Not making friends. Closing herself off to people and keeping her story to herself. Her mother gets worse every day. And her little sister Mary is losing herself. Meg feels desperate to find out why they are in witness protection and to do something about it. I felt desperate right along with her, but I hated every time she pushed Ethan away or wouldn't go somewhere with someone that was trying to be friends with her. I understood her predicament. I could empathize with her, but I didn't want it for her or the people she pushed away. I did like how her character developed though I thought she could have trusted Ethan a little more a little sooner.
Ethan- Ethan is a cute boy. He isn't a hero or a bad boy, he's got a bit of country in him, but when you live in a small town in Louisiana you do what you can to have fun. He is immediately drawn to Meg, maybe because she is new, but there doesn't seem to be any other girl that is vying for his attention. He's sweet, he teaches Mary how to make pizzas in the back of Pearl's where Meg worked. He takes the time to try to figure Meg out. He searches her out at school. He goes out of his way to take Meg and Mary to school and starts to bring Mary out of her shell so that she's more like herself, the person she was before all this happened.
There were so many secondary characters, nicely layered Mary probably had the most back story as the little sister, sharing this terrible journey with Meg. But where Meg was the protector, Mary reminded Meg of having fun, of what it was like to be a kid again. Mary reminded Meg to enjoy whatever there was to live for while they could. Mom was a fall out on the floor alcoholic and Dad was an angry, stoic bury his head in the sand figure. I think he was trying to make a deal with someone but I could never really figure that part of the story out.
Natchitoches, Louisiana. It is described as a small town with a quaint downtown, historic homes, cobblestone streets. Farms further out. A lot of the story takes place at the high school, the pizza shop, Ethan's father's farm or the little bungalows that Meg's family is living in. It's in a rather run down part of town. Her father works in a factory, her mother is too drunk to do anything. And Meg works every day with Mary coming to work with her. It's winter close to Mardi Gras.
Of course it's the story about a family in Witness Protection. But it's really about the effects of it on one girl and how she is determined to get out of it. I honestly was expecting a lighter story. But this is not a light story. Ethan catches Meg in a lie the second day of school and she finds herself trying to keep ahead of him most of the time. Meg constantly feels like she's being followed. She has several close calls when the lights go out or her belongings seem to have been gone through but nothing taken. One agent always seems to be right on her tail every time she turns around. And then she finds out the reason they are in Witness Protection. And it's nothing like she thought. And she is even more determined to fix things and get her family out of it. But her planning skills leave a lot to be desired and she has no money to get where she needs to go. And then, her mother gets worse. And it's all down hill from there. I honestly saw no way out of this for her. I figured this would be a series the way this was going. Meg is definitely a determined girl. She doesn't want to keep anyone close to her because anyone that knows anything is in danger. And yet, she can't help her family without a little help on her own. She really tries her best not to get involved with anyone, but she's a senior in high school, halfway through the year. I felt her aching for friends. Her need to fit in. But yet she's not even thinking about that, she's got this huge thing hanging over her head.
I thought the story was really well written, the creepy parts with Meg feeling like she was being followed had me creeped out, too. I was scared right along with her. The twists and turns in the novel will definitely keep you guessing right to the very last page. I wasn't expecting that ending, not the last page. But then again, it wasn't unexpected. The story is fast paced and will have you flipping pages almost faster than you can read them. I loved this novel for the suspense, the romance, the sisterly bond, and the mystery.
I received an e-ARC of this novel from Disney-Hyperion through Net-Galley for review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced in any way.