Last night, I finished reading Lisa McMann’s latest novel, Dead to You, and proceeded to spend the rest of the night thinking about the book. (I didn’t sleep much.) Dead to You, like McMann’s other YA novels (Wake, Fade, Gone, and Cryer’s Cross) kept my interest from the very beginning and kept me thinking long after I finished the book. (I’m still processing how it ended.) It was gripping, tense, and made me eager to turn the page. Dead to You was a quick read with a sympathetic male protagonist, and is a perfect pick for reluctant male readers. (There is some bad language in the book and a couple of rather frank depictions of, shall we say, what goes on in the mind of an adolescent male when confronted with an attractive female, so I would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone under the age of fourteen.) Anyone who reads this book will be intrigued by the premise—a boy kidnapped when he was seven and returned to his family nine years later—and eager to see how this story plays out…
Ethan De Wilde went missing when he was seven years old. No one had any clue about his whereabouts…until now. Sixteen-year-old Ethan has returned to his family after nine years, and he’s totally unprepared for what his miraculous appearance truly means, especially since he can’t remember anything before his abduction. His little brother Blake, though, remembers everything. He remembers seeing Ethan get into a black car with two strange men. Ethan has no recollection of that, but he does know that he lived with a woman named Ellen until she abandoned him at a group home a year ago. After he left the group home, Ethan found out where he truly belonged and made his way back to his long-lost family.
Ethan is trying to recall memories of his first seven years, but he’s overwhelmed with all his return means. His family—which moved on without him—is readjusting to having Ethan home. His mom and dad are constantly fighting, Blake seems to be jealous of all the attention Ethan is getting, and little Gracie—the “replacement child”—doesn’t really know what’s going on. Ethan is struggling with lost memories, going to school, feelings for the girl next door, and controlling his urge to run away from the madness his life has become.
Just when Ethan finally begins to feel safe and at home, something happens that throws his life into a tailspin once again. Ethan doesn’t know what to do, how he can get past this, or what it means for his future. But he does know one thing. Unlocking the memories of Ethan’s first seven years will change everything, and no one will be prepared for the fallout. Read Dead to You by Lisa McMann to learn what happens when things long-buried—memories, secrets, lies, resentments—rise to the surface and threaten to destroy everything.
I predict that Dead to You will be an easy sell in high school libraries everywhere. The book’s length is not intimidating to reluctant readers, teen readers across the board will find something to identify with, and the story itself is so fascinating that all readers—teen and adult—will be riveted until the very end. Also, the discussions that the ending will generate will be quite interesting. (It almost makes me wish I still worked in a high school so that I could talk to teens about this book.) Dead to You provides great opportunities for students to take the story and write their own endings. What happens next? I’m sure the answers would be as varied as the young adults who read this book.
If you’d like more information about Dead to You and other books my Lisa McMann, visit http://lisamcmann.com/index.html. You can also follow the author on Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest.
For even more, check out this video from Simon and Schuster with Lisa McMann talking about Dead to You and what her readers can expect next!