Amber's Reviews > Dead to You

Dead to You by Lisa McMann
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Jun 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: simon-schuster, arcs, books-i-own
Read from February 09 to 27, 2012

I don't think Dead To You is the right book for everybody. It's one of those novels you read when you are in the mood for something a little off and very dark. Lisa McMann dives into what it means to be a family and literally rips this idea from seam to seam while exposing the darkest parts of humanity. Ethan's rough voice coupled with his tough childhood contrasted by the innocence of his little sister Gracie is brilliant and McMann is able to mold her sparse writing style into exactly what the story needed.

Stolen away from his family at a young age, Ethan's reunion with the family that never stopped looking for him is heartbreaking and just a little bit awkward. Ethan's point of view is colored by his rough life. Everything he thinks or does is aimed at survival. Because of this rough way of living, he appreciates all the small things that being a family and having a steady home is about. It was really fascinating to watch him gravitate towards certain items and concepts like his pictures and the idea of his won room since he hadn't experienced those things before. I loved how rough around the edges he was and watching him try to fit in with a family that actually cares for him.

I really liked Gracie as a character. The fact that her parents wanted to shelter her from what happened to Ethan and how she and Ethan were able to bond really touched me. I felt like their relationship gave the novel a tender edge which is so desperately needed thanks to Ethan's very rough voice. I thought Blake would be the one Ethan would bond with since they knew each other from when Ethan was abducted but that was so not the case. The tension between Ethan and his brother Blake made for some great reading. I also really liked how fiercely Ethan's mother loved him and even how he was able to bond with his dad.

I wasn't exactly sure where the plot was going and got annoyed at how little Ethan remembered about his former life. Like him, I was fascinated with what happened after he went missing and I was always grateful to hear how his life was post abduction. What I didn't expect was for him to finally figure out his role in the family and then the explosive ending that left my jaw permanently unhinged. Seriously, this novel packs a huge, very emotional punch in that end that still has me reeling and I can't quite figure out if I'm okay with that.

Having read and loved the Wake series, I wasn't sure how McMann's sparse style would lend itself to a story like this. Turns out, I didn't need to worry because she showcases a completely differentway of writing. What I like about it though is she's still able to capture this simple way of seeing things and encasing this idea in the most beautiful words. Ethan's voice sounded natural and the writing was one of my favorite parts of this novel.

However, I don't feel like this novel will appeal to a wide variety of readers. As I was reading it during a trying time in my life, I found myself a little reluctanct to pick up the story because of the major darkness of the theme. This is not the novel's fault and I feel like at another time, I'd have appreciated the dark theme more. I felt like this is a story that needed to be told. I can see a character like Ethan just itching at the writer's brain and his story was definitely not like anything I expected.

Dead To You truly is unique read. Combining an honest voice that doesn't come around very often, a very stressful and delicate situation and a jaw dropping conclusion, it will definitely leave you shocked and will stick with you if you can stomach the dark themes.
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