Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Mystery of Hollow Places / Rebecca Podos

TITLE: The Mystery of Hollow Places
AUTHOR: Rebecca Podos
PUBLISHER: Balzer + Bray

Young Adult - Contemporary/Mystery

In this gorgeously written YA mystery, 17-year-old Imogene Scott sets out to find her father, a forensic pathologist and mystery writer, after he abruptly vanishes one day. But he left her a single clue, one tied to the bedtime story he used to tell her about her mother. Other than that tale and a photograph, that's all Imogene knows of the woman who gave birth to her, then left when she was only a toddler. 

Convinced that her father must be looking for her mother, Imogene begins her own investigation to try to find him. But first, she must unravel the truth behind the identity of her mother - and her own origins.

Beautifully written and utterly mesmerizing, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES is much more than, well, a mystery. It's a story about a girl searching for her family and grappling with the unbelievable reality of her father's disappearance. It's also a story of teen friendships and insecurities, as Imogene's life as a high schooler doesn't just vanish because her father did. While the story is well plotted and the questions of "who the heck is Imogene's mom" and "where the heck did her dad go" serve as great hooks, it was really the the hypnotic writing and Imogene's voice that kept the pages turning for me. Like I said, utterly mesmerizing. I read the whole thing in maybe 48 hours (while on a vacation with plenty of distractions).

As a character, Imogene is a fantastic mix of the snarky and the profound, a teen who alternates seamlessly between rattling off fun quips in both dialogue and narration and delving into gorgeous descriptions of her world and emotions. I also loved that the story explored a female friendship rather than focusing on her romantic interest. Not that there's anything wrong with romance, mind you. And there's a bit of that too. 

The whole book flows like a river, sometimes serene, often bouncing up against rocks, winding around obstacles to reach a thoroughly satisfying conclusion that left me staring into space and sighing for far too long (fortunately, my travel companions were too asleep to witness the weird smile that must have been on my face). Finishing was indeed bittersweet... I loved how it concluded but was sad that it was over.

And in conclusion: READ IT READ IT READ IT!!!

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure - Rebecca Podos and I share an agent (Lana Popovic), but other than that leading to my discovery of her awesome novel, that has nothing to do with anything. (What, I work at a Big Company and they've gotten me in the habit of adding disclaimers to everything)

Rebecca Podos is the author of the YA novel THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES (Balzer + Bray). A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College where she won the M.F.A. Award for Best Thesis, her fiction has been published in Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Paper Darts, Bellows American Review, and Smokelong Quarterly. Past Awards include the Helman Award for Short Fiction, the David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Prize for Young Adult Writers, and the Hillerman-McGarrity Scholarship for Creative Writing. She works as a YA and MG agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston.

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