Title: We Now Return to Regular Life
Author: Martin Wilson
Goodreads Synopsis: A 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.
My Goodreads Rating: 3.5/5
(*WARNING: Some minor spoilers in this review. Nothing specific, but be aware!*)
Sigh. My feelings on this book are complicated. I definitely did not hate it, but I just could not bring myself to feel connected to it. The characters felt rather flat, and I just didn’t feel emotionally invested in them. There was still this spark of interest in wanting to know what happened to Sam. I kept reading because I wanted to know his story. When he finally starts giving pieces of what he’s been through, it almost feels like he’s just relaying information from someone else. After reading, I realized that Sam would likely have a feeling of disconnection from his story now that he has gone through such a drastic transition, so I do understand why this was told in the way it was. However, I still feel like there could have been more substance to his storytelling.
What I did love about this story is that it does not end with this pretty ‘happy ending’. We don’t see everything get unrealistically solved right off the bat. Wilson acknowledges that Sam still has work to do, that he’ll be working toward healing as he comes to terms with what happened to him and tries to balance his past with his present. I thought that was a well-done ending, and it wrapped everything up without giving us an unrealistic view of this situation. So while I had my issues with the story, there is still something to be said about this novel and the topics it covers.