Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Misplaced" by Lee Murray

by Lee Murray

Misplaced is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Adam’s world is falling apart. But perhaps it was already unravelling and Adam just hadn’t seen the signs?
One evening, Adam’s mum pops out for the milk and doesn’t come back, launching a frantic nationwide search. Yet after weeks with no leads, the television crews drift away, the police start asking hairy questions, and Adam’s dad starts seeing someone else. Adam’s life is falling apart. But then he meets Skye, who it seems has misplaced a parent too, and things start to look up. That is, until a body is found …

I lie in the dark.
It’s quiet, except for the faint churn of the dishwasher downstairs, but I can’t sleep. When I was little, if I woke up from a bad dream, I’d hop into Mum’s side of the bed and snuggle into her.
‘Just a bad dream,’ she would murmur, half-asleep, wrapping an arm around me. ‘It’s not real. Go back to sleep.’
But this dream is real.
In the darkness, I reach out my mind to Mum, closing my eyes and sending my thoughts swirling into the universe like tendrils of smoke pouring into the farthest corners, searching for her. If I concentrate hard, I feel I can almost reach her. I can hear her breathe, smell the scent of her, feel the pulsing of her heart, the warmth of her skin. Intuitively, I know that breathing will break the connection, tenuous like a spider web weighed down after rain. I take a deep breath and hold it... holding... holding... holding us together for as long as I can so she knows I’m here and I’m thinking about her, missing her. My head pounds from the strain. I screw my eyes up, feel the tension between my eyebrows. Holding. My heart races. My cheeks scream. Chest bursting. Still, I hold on. Eventually, I can’t help it: I have to breathe.
I lose her in a whoosh.

Praise for the Book
"Misplaced is a gripping, poignant narrative of family loss and teenage discovery. The characterisation is outstanding. An exceptionally well-conceived and executed young adult novel." ~ Graeme Lay, author of more than 40 titles
"From the very first pages, readers are drawn into the tragic and unfathomable mystery facing Adam, a likeable teen struggling to cope with the unexpected disappearance of his mother. In his battle to deal with her disappearance, he calls upon the strength of friends and family only to discover his own inner strengths and love. Told with compassion and touching humour, this intriguing mystery pulls the reader on a tense and totally unforgettable journey." ~ Susan Brocker, author of Restless Spirit and many other titles

Some of My Favorite Lines
About Adam's long eyelashes: "Mum reckons you could sweep the floor with those lashes."
"Across the road, black rooftops silhouette against the graphite sky."
About informing Adam's grandmother about his mother being missing: "Wynn's likely to have a heart attack if we ring her at this hour and tell her we've misplaced your mum."
"On the radio, Katy Perry is kissing a girl and liking it."
"On the airwaves, the guys from Nickelback tell Adam to keep breathing."
"Adam wonders if detectives always come in twos, like girls going to the toilets."
"Adam stares out the window as the magenta sunset bleeds slowly into grey."
"Aunty Mandy's response to all this has been to rabbit on and on, as if incessant talking would fill up the space that used to be occupied by Mum."
"Please don't let her be baking them another batch of her paving stone scones. What does she put in them, cement?"
"If this wasn't so serious, it'd be fun. Tip-toeing around hunting for clues like a paperback detective."
"Adam thinks he might suggest to Mr Penny, the Deputy Principal, that the school introduce a new module in Creative Writing. He'd call it, Talking Trauma: Composing New Ways to Address Those Suffering Loss Without Spouting the Same Trite Platitudes You've Heard Your Parents Use."
"Who wants to be mates with the loser who can't even remember where he left his mother?"
"What's the point of school anyway? What's the point of anything? Why bother putting in an effort when at any moment your life could be shattered by something as pathetic as milk?"

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The book starts off with seventeen-year-old Adam making a television appeal to his mother Tiffany to come home. Then we go back to when she was last seen and follow the story in real time. Adam has "misplaced" his mum. She goes out to buy some milk one evening and never comes home. Meanwhile, Adam's father is acting suspiciously, as is his mother's friend Maria. What secrets are they hiding?
Through it all, Adam manages to maintain his sense of humor, although missing his mother turns into anger when he starts thinking she has left him and his father. It's great to see Adam get the support he needs from his grandmother, his aunt, the school counselor, and his friends Kieran and Corey. He also manages to be distracted by his track coach, his own search for his mother, and by his developing relationship with Skye, who has family troubles of her own.
Misplaced is told in the third person present tense, giving the story an immediacy and urgency. It is interspersed with first person accounts from Adam. I enjoyed these accounts the best and feel the whole book could have been written this way. The New Zealand dialect and setting add color and interest to the story, and the editing is near-perfect.
*Spoiler Alert* I was, however, disappointed with the ending. I felt that the author was leaving clues throughout the book which would lead to the mystery being solved. However, this was not the case. I was looking for closure, but I guess we are left to feel like those left behind after a loved one goes missing. We are left in the dark, there is no closure, and we just have to move on. I am better able to understand the author's motivation for ending the book this way after reading about her inspiration for writing this story (see below).
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references.

Interview with the Author (originally published on her website)
What concept or situation about your book makes it so unique?
Death is final. It’s terribly sad, but the person is gone. But when someone goes missing, there’s always a chance they might come back. That perennial spark of hope is perhaps the thing that makes loss through disappearance the most difficult. In Misplaced, Adam’s grandpa has Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease in which a person loses their memory over time. I felt this was an important parallel to Adam’s story of loss as a person suffering from Alzheimer’s can have occasional periods of lucidity, providing family members with the cruel hope that the person might one day come back.
Tell us about Misplaced. What was your inspiration for this book?
I’m not sure inspiration is the right word. This story was written for a dear friend, Florence Bloise. One evening in 2003, Florence went missing in France. No trace of her has ever been found. Sadly, this situation is more common than you might think: all over the world people go missing every day. Most turn up after a few days but some, like Florence, are never found. An artist, Florence has three children, now in their teens. In writing Misplaced I wanted to examine how those left behind might cope, or not cope, under those uncertain circumstances. How does one move on? Is it even possible? Perhaps in my own way, I’m still searching for Florence, and for closure.
What is your favourite scene from the book and why?
I particularly like the scenes in which Adam and his friends seek answers from a medium. From the outset the teens are skeptical, something the medium doesn’t know, which made it fun to write.
If you could tell us one thing about the young adult genre that makes your mind spin with ideas, what would that be?
Teenagers are a contradiction. On the cusp of adulthood, they can accomplish almost everything an adult character can: drive a car, make a meal, use a cash machine, wield a sword, incite a riot, design a robot, even have a relationship. Yet their youth means they’re still trying to make sense of the world, so when faced with a particular situation you never quite know how a teenager might react. This makes them hugely exciting to write.

About the Author
Lee Murray is a full-time writer and editor with masters degrees in science and management. Lee wrote Misplaced after a friend, Florence, went missing from her home in France in 2003. Sadly, Florence is still missing. Lee lives in New Zealand with her husband and their two teenage children.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some a $50 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Misplaced by Lee Murray.