Published by Lake Union Publishing on May 1, 2016
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On the night of Alex Carmody’s sixteenth birthday, she and her best friend, Cass, are victims of a terrible car accident. Alex survives; Cass doesn’t. Consumed by grief, Alex starts cutting school and partying, growing increasingly detached. The future she’d planned with her friend is now meaningless to her.
Meg Carmody is heartbroken for her daughter, even as she’s desperate to get Alex’s life back on track. The Birches, a boarding school in New Hampshire, promises to do just that, yet Alex refuses to go. But when Meg finds a bag of pills hidden in the house, she makes a fateful call to a transporter whose company specializes in shuttling troubled teens to places like The Birches, under strict supervision. Meg knows Alex will feel betrayed—as will her estranged husband, who knows nothing of Meg’s plans for their daughter.
When the transport goes wrong—and Alex goes missing—Meg must face the consequences of her decision and her deception. But the hunt for Alex reveals that Meg is not the only one keeping secrets.
I’m puzzled that I thought Deliver Her by Patricia Perry Donovan was a suspense/thriller. Now that I’ve finished it, it read more like a character-driven fiction story. I think it was the last part of the synopsis that made me think this would be suspenseful book but alas it just was not.
Still, I loved the development of the characters. There are three alternating POV’s: Alex, a troubled teen on a destructive path after surviving a car accident that killed her best friend; Meg, Alex’s mother, who is a hot mess; and Carl, the transporter hired by Meg to drive Alex to a boarding school several states away.
All of the characters-main and secondary-have big issues and secrets that create tons of drama and tension. Each one is interesting and well-developed, and I enjoyed reading about them all. I particularly liked the scenes involving Meg and her husband Jacob, who have some big relationship issues and some holy-cow-major-secrets they are keeping from one another. I felt like both of them were complex and written as if they could have been the focal point of the story even though they technically were not.
As important as the story of Alex is, I just don’t feel like her voice is as strong as her mother’s or even her father’s (he is not one of the main POV’s). I think that is why I am not as compelled by her. I can tell that she is struggling tremendously with the loss of her best friend. I can tell that her bad behavior is a cry for attention. I can tell many things about her. But I don’t feel much of a connection to her when I’m reading, and that makes me sad. I feel like she is supposed to be the link connecting all of the other characters, so I needed her voice to be stronger than it was.
I wish some of the detailing and writing throughout had been a little bit tighter. For example, it kept occurring to me that I didn’t really know where Alex and Carl, the transporter, were along their road trip to the boarding school as they drove. Since the road trip took up such a large part of the story, and since the “transport goes wrong” (per the synopsis, not a spoiler), the transport detailing needed to be TIGHT.
This book was okay, but it’s worth noting that I definitely liked it better as a character-driven fiction story than as suspense or thriller. It probably won’t make it onto my rereads list, but I’m definitely planning to read the author’s next release, which will be out in a few weeks.