A review copy of this book was provided by St Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
From the moment I read the description of this book I was hooked – it sounded like a new generation’s take on The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B Cooney (which I loved as a kid). In Another Life was a surprise for me – it’s a interesting myste
ry that explores the idea of kidnapping in a grounded way, albeit with a bit of a boring ending.
In Another Life follows Chloe as she adjusts to her new normal – her mother and father recently went through a nasty divorce and she has been forced to move to a new town with her mother. To pile on – her mom has recently had a rough bout of cancer, and while she is in remission, she’s become severely depressed. Chloe is receiving no support from her father either: he’s too wrapped up in his new life with his girlfriend to notice the wake of destruction he left behind him. Enter Cash: a mysterious foster child who is convinced that Chloe is the abducted daughter of his foster parents. The two set out to figure out who Chloe truly is, no matter what the consequences are.
I went into this book sold on the premise. It’s one of the few YA books I’ve picked up recently that felt like a fairly original concept. I was a little nervous about how the suspected kidnapping plot would be handled – it’s a theme that I feel requires a delicate treatment. I was very pleased to find that the whole kidnapping theme wasn’t used solely to add drama to the plot – it was thoroughly explored and well fleshed out. My favorite part of this book was that it didn’t feel too far-fetched – there were a lot of common YA themes stuffed into this novel (divorced parents, terminal illness, mental health, teen angst, school bullies, etc), but the book never felt weighed down or over the top because of them. My only gripe with this book was the ending. While it was realistic, it just kinda fell flat for me. I would have liked to have more of an epilogue or a more exciting ending.
I really enjoyed Chloe as a main character – she was well defined and interesting to read about. She cares deeply about those around her and often puts the well being of her friends and family above her own. Her reactions as she slowly unraveled the mystery of her past felt real and raw – it felt like she was just trying to keep her head above water and cope with what life threw her way. When she did have emotional outbursts, they felt earned (if that makes sense). Cash was also a great character – while his background is treated as more of a subplot, it’s still compelling and fun to unravel. It was nice to slowly discover where his mistrust and aloofness were rooted.
In Another Life was a fast-paced mystery with a sweet romantic undertone that took on a deeply complicated issue and didn’t try to oversimplify it for the reader. It was executed well, but fell flat in the last 50 pages. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a breath of fresh air in YA contemporaries, or for any fans of The Face on the Milk Carton. 4/5