Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Don't Try to Find Me - Holly Brown

Don't Try to Find Me
TLC Book Tours has obviously caught on to the fact that I enjoyed Gillian Flynn's blockbuster novel, Gone Girl. First they sent me Chasing the Sun, a novel about a wife who goes missing, and now Holly Brown's Don't Try to Find Me.

Ok, in this one a daughter disappears, not a wife. But, unlike Chasing the Sun, it has the thriller tone of Gone Girl. Unfortunately, it's missing the character development and exploration of Chasing the Sun

In Brown's book, fourteen-year-old Marley runs away from her parents to live with the much older boyfriend she met on Facebook. Don't worry. I'm not giving much away. You find that much out in the first 30 pages or so. Back home, all her parents know is that she left a note instructing them not to search for her. As the story progresses, truths come to light all over the place, particularly surrounding Marley's mother. 

My biggest issue with this book was the characters. I simply did not find them very endearing. Marley seemed to me to be a spoiled, self-indulgent child, so caught up in her own issues that she cannot see beyond herself to anyone else's struggles. The fact that she ran away to meet someone from the Internet without doing due diligence doesn't make her look very bright, either. I know, I know. This happens. Girls do this, and it's tragic when they do. They are looking for love and some people are very good pretenders. Regardless, I have a natural aversion to ignorant people and Marley's actions make her ignorant in my eyes. NaivĂ©, yes, but mostly ignorant. 

At least the girl got it honestly. Her parents are also entirely wrapped up in their own problems. Communication in their marriage has long since failed and they both harbor resentment toward the other. On the outside, they have the perfect little family. Inside, it's crumbling at the cracks. All of this does give the story complexity, but in some ways it all seems a touch too contrived. Their emotions, words, and actions all feel stiff and prescribed, rather than natural and realistic.

Holly Brown
Brown used social media and internet references throughout the book to progress the story. Marley meets her boyfriend on Facebook, her parents set up a Twitter account to publicize her disappearance, we see transcripts of tweets and Facebook chats, etc., etc. I understand that this is a modern story and technology is an integral part of it. Yet, there has always been a part of me that strongly resists these types of references in my literature. It somehow feels inorganic to me. I cannot pinpoint exactly why, perhaps because it dates the book, but it has always irked me. I'm guessing I need to get over this. Social media has overtaken our lives. It will only continue to creep into our literature as well. 

One thing I wish Brown would have spent a bit more time on is the fact that missing white girls get far more attention in this country than girls and women of color. The media eagerly jumps on a story of a girl from a "perfect," white suburban family, as evidenced by the successful efforts of Marley's parents in the book. These cases become much higher profile than those of missing girls from low-income families, particularly when the missing child is not Caucasian. It's a horribly sad reality and I would have liked to see Brown address it at least in passing in the book. She spends a good deal of time on the media coverage of Marley's disappearance, so it seems like it could have fit in well. 

For all my disparaging of the book, it was entertaining. Super simple read and fast moving. This one one of those that falls solidly on the entertainment side of the line for me; it's nowhere near being classified as art of any kind. I have no doubt that some of you would love it. If you are looking for something easy, fast, and a bit vapid - this is your pick. If you want something with more character focus and complexity, take a pass on this one. 

Pages: 384
Date Completed: June 17, 2014

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