Book Title: We Now Return To Regular Life
Author: Martin Wilson
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Drama, Family
Pub Date: 08/01/17
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.
Have you ever read a book and acknowledged that, yeah, it wasn’t a perfect read, but it was the perfect read for you? That was case and point We Now Return To Regular Life for me. While this story is mainly narrated from the POVs of Beth, Sam’s older sister, and Josh, his next door neighbor and friend, I could sense other unspoken views being told between the lines that felt as prominent as the ones put into written word. This form of storytelling can only be mastered by a select few and it was pulled off extremely well here; I can only imagine how difficult it was to bring the presence of multiple characters to life without utilizing their own voice. This was a book that was weighted with a sadness most of us cannot comprehend from personal experience, but also left us with a hopeful joy that humans are resilient and are able to overcome immense trauma with the support of a few loved ones.
This story was plopped into my lap in rare form; I wasn’t expecting it to come in the mail and when I opened it I realized I hadn’t heard of it. I almost never have the opportunity to find such a hidden gem these days, but I’m so glad that I chanced upon this book because it changed me in ways I’m not sure I can put into words. WNRTRL is a book easily devoured in a single sitting, but time didn’t allow me this luxury, and I’m glad because I was able to better digest the heavy stuff that I may have glossed over in an unintended rush. I felt I was experiencing this story from all angles; I’m still fairly young and remember most of my childhood and adolescence with great clarity, so I didn’t feel far removed from our main characters and their myriad of struggles. I’m also a mother of young children, which caused me to feel with great sorrow what Sam’s mother experienced in not only losing her baby boy for three years, but in having a shell of her precious son returned to her as if some sort of cruel joke had been played on her family. My point is that a reader at any age or walk of life can get something out of this book.
I’m not certain what age range for young adults I would recommend this to; as some parents are more strict than others I think it’s up to each individual. While a majority of the story had a juvenile overtone (there is only one scene in the entire book that is sensual and it is described in a very mild mannered way), the nature of the content does make it a fairly heavy and somewhat disturbing book for the more sensitive reader. Everything is done tastefully and handled in a classy way; nothing felt done for shock value or cheapening this experience that other people have lived through, but I would feel guilty if I didn’t suggest that each parent or reader consider if it’s the right read for them before diving in.
As per my usual reviews, I’m not going to go into plot details and spoilers, but there is so much to be learned through this story in terms of surviving trauma and the emotional toll it takes on everyone touched by such tragedy. I was completely caught up in this story; the characters made me feel like a part of their world and I was a little hesitant to put down the book, as I felt the mama bear in me not wanting to lose control and let these kids heal on their own as they needed to. What if they need me? If a book can make me feel THAT, I know there’s something special here. There are plenty of aspects of diversity included and done at an age appropriate level which I think will please many discerning readers of the young adult genre today. Highly recommended for those looking for a book to make them feel; all ages welcome!
*Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.