Monday, January 27, 2020

Lost You by Haylen Beck: Reading Room Review


Lost You is the second Haylen Beck I've read and the second one written under this name by acclaimed Irish author Stuart Neville (The Ghosts of Belfast). I haven't read anything under the Neville name yet, but I am a solid fan of Haylen Beck. The first Beck book, Here and Gone, was a favorite of mine from 2017, and although I'm just reading it now in 2020, Lost You is a favorite from 2019. Both books deal with mothers and children, lost and found, and the lengths a mother will go to for her children, but they are worlds apart in their stories. Lost You has two desperate mothers and one gobsmacking twist, the kind of twist that I live for in reading--well executed, not forced, and gasp-worthy. The story you start reading is not the story you end reading, and, yet, the pieces are there, just not arranged how you expect.

Libby Reese and her three-year-old son Ethan are on vacation at an luxurious resort in Naples, Florida, a reward that Libby is allowing herself for her hard work on her soon-to-be published book. For Ethan, who loves swimming, the resort with its seven pools is paradise. For Libby, it is a chance to relax that has been a long time coming. She has been raising Ethan by herself since he was six months old and his father/her husband left them. Their first day at Casa Rosa they meet Charles and Gerry, a couple who instantly take to Libby and her adorable child. Gerry is especially good in his helping Ethan to enjoy the pool, and Charles is quite adept at getting Libby to let her hair down a bit. After an evening of some music and dance with Charles and Gerry, with Ethan in tow, Libby is saying goodnight to Charles at the elevators when Ethan disappears into an open elevator. Libby can't catch the elevator before the doors close, and her son is whisked up and away. A frantic search ensues with no success. The police are called in, and Charles is found injured on one of the staircases, and Libby fears that her new friend didn't just fall. She is now certain that Ethan's disappearance is anything but accidental or happenstance. 

So, what follows is a book about the search for a lost or abducted child, right? Wrong. What follows is the story of how life for Libby Reese and her son Ethan got to the point of that night, when their world would be forever changed. Haylen Beck delves deep inside his characters and shows us how they came to be the people that they are. Whether you like a character or not, and there will be some of each in Lost You, you come to understand that character through the skillful development by the author. I felt both the joy and the heartache that the characters in this story experience, and as with life, it's sometimes both at once. Lost You is going to be a read that you find hard to put down, and when the twists come, you will feel them full on.

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