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June 23, 2023

The Long Way Back by Nicole Baart ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

When an Instagram-famous teenager mysteriously disappears, her mother grapples with the revelation of dark secrets.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of women's fiction novel The Long Way Back by Nicole Baart
June 2023; Atria; 978-1982115104
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); women's fiction

This is a look at the relationship between mothers and daughters and asks how well mothers know their daughters and how well daughters understand their mothers no matter how close their relationship appears to be.  For the mother and daughter duo in this story, the truth is revealed when the daughter disappears.

Mother Charlie and daughter Eva have always been close -- it's always been just the two of them against the world.  A picture that they post on social media goes viral and they end up creating an Instagram account called Eva Explores.  They pack up an old airstream camper and travel around the country while keeping their fans updated on their travels. Eva tires of the travel and asks if they can settle down while she finishes her final year of high school and makes plans for college.  They settle in a small town in Minnesota on Lake Superior and their relationship continues to be very close - or is it?  When Charlie admits that she's tired of being settled down and wants a few more months of travel, Eva refuses.  After much discussion, Eva relents but the next day, she disappears from the small boat that she and her mom were on while her mom was taking a nap. When Charlie is rescued, the police become involved and Charlie is the main suspect in her daughter's disappearance.  Even as the FBI becomes involved, Charlie remains the main suspect.  She knows that she is going to have to do some investigation on her own to clear her name and find her daughter.  I really can't say much more about her investigation without spoiling the book for other readers but I will tell you that the second half of the book was full of twists and turns that kept me rapidly turning pages.  

The story is told from both Charlie and Eva's points of view and their chapters are interspersed with Instagram posts and college application essays that Eva has written. I thought the addition of the essays helped give much more depth and background to Eva's story.

This book was a look at two major issues -- the effects of a family living their lives on social media for the entire world to see and a look at the difficulty that some mothers have in realizing that their children are growing up and need to have a life of their own separate from them.

This was a definitely suspenseful read.  It drew me in quickly and even though I found Charlie to be overbearing at times,  I still hoped for a positive outcome after Eva's disappearance. You don't want to miss this one especially if social media is a major part of your life.

Buy The Long Way Back at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  

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