When Meg comes home to find her house trashed, the result of a house party hosted by teenage daughter Alex, she has finally had enough. The bag of pills hid in a cushion seals the deal and, fuelled by a mix of anger, frustration and worry, she makes a decision. Alex needs more help than she or her husband can provide but help a boarding school for troubled teens can.
It’s not a decision she makes easily, but she feels lost and helpless. A year earlier, Alex had been involved in a car accident and lost her best friend Cass. Meg knows it’s hit Alex hard, affecting her school work (when she goes to school) and leading her into bad company and way too many parties. When challenged she lashes out at her parents. When asked what’s wrong, she shuts down. Despite getting her help, Alex just can’t be reached. Neither can Meg’s soon to be ex-husband Jacob, who doesn’t agree with Meg at all.
Knowing that attempting to take Alex to the school herself will be difficult, if not impossible, without a major fight, Meg makes a second decision, to hire a “transportation” company, who will do the job for her. It’s owner, Carl, is the one who takes on the job, arriving at Meg’s house in the early hours of the morning to take Alex away. He will not, he promises, let Meg or Alex down. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned and, despite Carl’s best efforts Alex goes missing and the search to find her begins, leading to secrets being revealed and Meg, Alex, Carl and Jacob having to face some hard truths.
Told through the eyes of Meg, Carl and Alex, more than anything is is Meg and Alex’s story – one borne of misunderstanding and perfectly believable if I think back to my teenage years. I may not have pushed my parents to try to ship me off but I know I gave them a hard time. Being a teenager is hard. It’s especially hard when you have been through what Alex has been through, losing a best friend but also dealing with her parents divorce and failing at school. Once the secrets around Cass’ death are revealed, it makes Alex’s behaviour even more understandable. The fact that Alex never talks about it also explains Meg’s response. She makes a lot of mistakes but they do come from a good place.
As characters I liked Meg and Alex a lot. I thought they were well written and well rounded, as was Carl. I wanted a happy ending for all of them. Jacob, who didn’t get his own voice, I didn’t think was as solid and some of behaviours felt like they were more to drive the plot forward than what I might have expected. If that was the intention though it worked because after a slow start, the pace picked up and kept going till the end. I found myself turning pages and needing to know what was going to happen next. What I got wasn’t what I had expected when I bought the book – I think I was expecting more of a standard thriller / suspense and got quite an emotional roller coaster- but that is no bad thing as I really liked it a lot. A recommended read!