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We Now Return to Regular Life
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We Now Return to Regular Life
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The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns...
The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns...
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Description-

  • The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown.

    Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.
    Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he's coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.
    And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can't admit the truths he's hidden deep within himself: that he's gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.
    As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can't live in silence. Josh can't live with his secrets. And Sam can't continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.
    For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn't want you to be.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    chapter 1

    That Day

    Beth

    We’d been studying on his couch, our Advanced Chemistry textbooks sitting on the coffee table, suffering through questions about alkali metals and noble gases, when Donal made a joke about gas beingignoble. And I’d laughed, like I always did at his dumb jokes. And then our knees touch and our shoulders bump and suddenly we start kissing each other. Like, a real kiss, deep and forceful, sending gentle sparks up my back. I’m wondering how in the world this happened when my cell phone starts ringing.

    It’s Mom—I know from the ringtone, I don’t even have to look. The one day I cut out from school early. The one day I break routine. I pull away from Donal, instantly wishing I hadn’t. I let out a little laugh and instantly feel this ridiculous mix of nervousness, because Mom is calling, and regret, because we stopped kissing too soon, and then confusion, because why were we even kissing to begin with?

    “Damn,” Donal says. “Let’s not stop.”

    I stare into his blue eyes, which look a little dopey right now. He isn’t my boyfriend. He’s my friend, just my friend, ever since freshman year. Why did I like kissing him so much? I wipe my lips, but I also have the urge to lean into him again and start all over.

    But the phone keeps ringing. I can’t ignore Mom. I’m her dependable daughter. And if, for once, I’m not, she’ll freak out.

    I scoot away from Donal and make a move to go to my purse on the floor at the end of the couch, but I stop.

    Did he plan on kissing me all along?

    “You gonna get that?” Donal asks. “Or can you just ignore it,” he says, breaking into a smile while raising his eyebrows again and again in a silly way.

    It must be close to three o’clock. I’m skipping sixth-period soccer practice. We both are. I hurt my ankle last week and have a doctor’s note—a light sprain. I’m not out for the season or anything. But I’m still supposed to sit on the sidelines and physically be there—you know, be a team player, rah-rah-rah.

    But I snuck away with Donal. He’s on the boys’ team, but his coach had the flu and their practice was canceled. It was his idea, skipping out. “Let’s get this chemistry assignment done,” he’d said. And then he added, “at my place.” He knew I didn’t like to spend a lot of time at my own house. So yeah, maybe he planned this. Makes total sense. Except it doesn’t. And now my phone won’t shut up.

    I finally hop from the couch and grab my phone from my bag, squatting on the floor. I don’t answer, I just stare at the word “Mom” flashing on the screen. Then the ringing stops. “Great,” I say. Somehow she’s figured out that I’m not at school. Maybe Coach Bailey called her. All I can think about is my mom’s worried face, the thoughts that must be swirling through her brain.

    Donal runs a hand through his red hair then leans forward, his eyes on me, but he’s not making the funny face anymore. Then the phone starts ringing again, and he leans back on the couch, laughing.

    I try to gather my thoughts. Okay, quick—what’s my excuse? Screw it. “Hello,” I say after the third ring. I brace myself. But I don’t hear any words. I just hear something like a moan. “Hello?” I say again.

    The moan turns to some sort of heavy breathing, and then I hear Mom’s voice: “Beth?” It sounds like she’s...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 5, 2017
    When Sam was 11—just a bratty younger brother, as far as his sister, Beth, was concerned—he was abducted. Now, three years later, he’s been found. Beth shares narrating duties with Sam’s old neighbor Josh, which makes for a rounded view of both the disappearance and life afterward. Now 17, Beth is used to a mother who’s only half there, and she’s made new friends who never knew Sam. Josh, now a high school freshman, still has a secret, but he’s no longer the loser he felt like back when Sam was taken. Wilson (What They Always Tell Us) effectively shows how complex it can be to adjust to change, even when it’s positive. Beth is suddenly interesting to people she doesn’t know, her long-absent father reappears, her mother goes into maternal overdrive, and no one knows what to say to Sam. Josh doesn’t either, but he wants to be Sam’s friend, even though his other friends don’t understand why. Though the book starts slowly, once the characters are established, it offers a moving and believable depiction of a damaged survivor and what his return means to those around him. Ages 14–up.

  • Kirkus

    May 1, 2017
    A traumatized abductee returns to his family after having been missing for three years. Eleven-year-old Sam Walsh was on his way to the mall with his best friend, Josh, when he was abducted by a stranger from his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and taken across the state to Anniston, where he was severely physically and mentally abused. Three years later he returns to his family, seemingly healthy, but as the months go by, the trauma slowly reveals itself as perceived by two narrators: Josh and his older sister, Beth. His return becomes a national media story, and Beth, now a senior in high school, struggles to reidentify herself in the face of new attention from her classmates and the overwhelming upheaval of reconnecting with her lost brother. Josh, struggling to understand his own sexuality, becomes the one person Sam trusts with the discomforting, horrific stories of what happened to him while he was gone. The whole story unfolds in a fast-paced, near-cinematic sweep of Alabama heat, religion, and family drama. Wilson also captures the diversity of one of Alabama's larger urban centers: though Sam, Beth, and Josh are white, Beth's friends are African-American and Latina, and the one friend that Sam made while abducted is African-American, to name a few. Readers may find themselves flipping quickly through the Beth narrative to discover the heart of what happened to Sam. A fast-paced yet complex and heart-rending read. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-Three years ago, Beth Walsh's little brother Sam went missing while out with his friend Josh. Now that Sam has been found alive, Beth is trying to cope with another upheaval, and Josh is struggling with the secrets he's been keeping for three years. Both want to help Sam move forward after the abuse he suffered, but recovery, for all three of them, is not that simple. Wilson has taken a risk in writing a novel about the return of a missing and abused child that does not focus on the victim, and the results are mixed. Beth and Josh are well-developed characters, and the narrative is well paced. However, their problems seem mostly superficial compared with Sam's trauma, and Josh's story fails to reach a conclusion. The absence of Sam's point of view means that his actions are often frustratingly unexplained or shrugged off, no matter how serious. This is particularly an issue in regard to a scene of nonconsensual sexual contact between Sam and Josh. Also, redundant references to the Walsh family's socioeconomic class don't add anything to the story. VERDICT Though not without its merits, this title likely won't satisfy readers; recommended for larger collections.-Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, OH

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 15, 2017
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* After having vanished three years earlier, 14-year-old Sam miraculously returns home. His family was convinced he was dead, but, in fact, he'd been abducted by a pedophile, and the police discover Sam when his abductor tries to kidnap a second boy and is caught in the act. With Sam home, the story then becomes one of his slow recovery from his traumatic ordeal, as told from the alternating points of view of two other characters: Sam's older sister, Beth, and his one-time best friend Josh. Their stories tell not only what is happening in the now but, in flashbacks, what happened the day Sam disappeared. The last two people to see him before he vanished, both characters blame themselves for what transpired, but are they really responsible? Whatever the answer, Samas a result of his ordealbelieves no one will ever love him. Mercifully, that's not the case. Beth loves him desperately, and as for Josh, readers discover that he's gay and that he, too, loves Sam. Populated with wonderfully complex and empathetic characters, Wilson's novel is beautifully written, displaying the perfect balance of heartbreak and hope with an always apposite tone and style that will capture readers' hearts as they, too, fall in love with Sam.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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