Friday, May 22, 2015

The Last Good Day of the Year ~ Jessica Warman (earc) review [@bloomsburykids @jkwarman]

The Last Good Day of the Year
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
May 19, 2015
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author of Between.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.
As a character-centric story, I really enjoyed The Last Good Day of the Year; as a mystery-thriller, I'm still undecided.

The story alternates between New Year's Day 1986 (and some parts both before and after) and present day 1996 (and some before). Samantha and her best friend and neighbor were only seven years old when their lives changed forever. The two, along with Samantha's younger sister Turtle were spending New Year's Eve night sleeping in her basement, while the adults partied upstairs.

Sam's biggest worry was staying up past midnight, until the man appeared in her yard. Sam and Remy watched, terrified, as Turtle was kidnapped. They identified Sam's older sister Gretchen's ex-boyfriend, a man now in jail for Turtle's murder.

Now ten years later, her family is returning to that home they left behind. A home full of so many memories and possible secrets.

I knew from the summary that there were questions about what happened to Turtle, whether it all happened as they think, as they remember. The back and forth, between time periods, the past and present, does a great job letting readers know seven-year-old Sam and teenage Sam, of meeting all of the different characters, seeing who they were and what they've become.

I loved that we started with Turtle's kidnapping in 1986, but also worked up to it, in a way, in 1996. I love really great thrillers and for me there wasn't quite enough question surrounding the mystery in The Last Good Day of the Year. There was too much that was either obvious or very easy to guess. There was also just a bit more left unknown once the story was over, too many things more unresolved than I would like.

That said, though, it is a very nicely done story. The characters, their relationships prior to Turtle's abduction and presumed murder and how things (and the characters) have changed in the past decade were great. The Last Good Day of the Year is a good story full of twists, turns, heartache and pain.

Other Book(s) You Might Also Enjoy: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

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