If You’re Out There

I read an excerpt of this on EpicReads and finally got the book from my public library. This was a really good book that covered a lot of heavy topics in a relatable, low-key manner.


Summary

39333677After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.


My Thoughts

4/5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut by Katy Loutzenhiser! The cover seems very light and  contemporary but there’s also an intriguing mystery, deep examinations of friendship and family, and self-discovery. Plus a dash of romance, of course 😉

I think a lot of this book will hit close to home for a lot of people. Most of us have gone through losing a close friend to distance or death, and this book covers both of those instances. In an age where social media and texting makes ghosting an everyday occurrence, it can be hard to know when someone is saying goodbye or just taking a few extra moments to respond.

But what if this someone is your best friend? Practically your sister?

That’s the mystery this book aims to solve. Why does Priya suddenly stop talking to Zan, her best friend and practically her sister, when she moves to California? Despite Zan’s best efforts to call, text, and elicit a comment on Instagram photos, Priya maintains radio silence with her.

Thus begins Zan’s journey to find and confront Priya for leaving her. Along the way she meets Logan, a new guy in town who people keep warning her to stay away from. And, on top of her anger/worry/sadness over Priya, her mom keeps trying to go therapist on her and her dad can’t seem to be a normal person for more than five seconds.

I found the mystery aspect of this book intriguing and kept turning the pages to put the pieces together. I was not disappointed with the mystery’s resolution, though part of the characterization of one involved person didn’t seem to click into the story with 100% success.

I really enjoyed the examinations of family and friendship. Throughout Zan’s search for Priya we get snippets of the good ole times and the present, not so great times. We get inside jokes, memories from a lifelong friendship, and that gut feeling you have just for your best friends.

We also dive into a divorced family and a non-traditional family. Zan’s parents are divorced and she struggles with relating to her dad now that he isn’t in the picture like he used to be. Plus, her mom is a therapist who seems to be treating Zan like one of her patients. Logan struggles with his past, his mother, and being a good parent figure for his little sister. When trying to deal with the past it can be hard to focus on the future, and this is something the book delves into for a lot of our characters. Sprinkled throughout the family arcs in the book are addiction, loyalty, LGBTQ rep, and getting to choose your family.

So I loved the mystery, family, and friendship aspects of the book. I did not love some of the characterization or the romance.

I can’t say whose motivations/characterization I didn’t really understand without giving things away, so I’ll just leave it as it stands.

However, I can talk easily about the romance here. Honestly, I really liked Zan and Logan as friends. I felt like their relationship moved too quickly for the context of this book. I know instalove is a thing in YA contemporaries, but the book should mostly focus on the romance plot if you’re going to do that. This book is all about friendship and family, so why throw in what seems like a rushed romance? Granted, I wasn’t really following the timeline that closely, so maybe Zan and Logan had months to get to know each other and develop romantic feeling toward each other. But, without looking too closely at the dates, it doesn’t read like that. I do think they’re cute together but I always read them more as really close friends than bf/gf. One of those friends you form an instant connection with and it seems like you’ve known them your whole life.

And I’m usually the one defending instalove, so this is saying something. I can see them both as friends and as a couple, but the romance seemed to be developed more as a plot/character device to cram into the story just because and less as a natural progression in their relationship.

Sweeping these two things under the rug, this is a really great book. I would highly recommend giving it a shot, and I’ll be on the lookout for the author’s next book!

 

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