ARC Review: Essential Maps for the Lost

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Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
Genre: YA Contemporary, Family
Publication: April 5th 2016 by Simon Pulse
Series: n/a
Length: 336 pages
Format: eARC from publisher

From beloved author and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti comes a fresh and luminous novel about the grief that can tear us apart and the people who can make us whole again.

When Madison makes a startling discovery, the body of a dead woman floating in the middle of a lake, the summer after her senior year becomes more complicated than she ever expected.

Madison (Mads to everyone who knows her) is staying with her aunt and uncle in Seattle after graduating from high school. Being away from her needy, unstable mother who’s been pressuring her to take over the family business is such a relief. Now all Mads has to worry about is taking classes, swimming laps, and fighting off the sadness that threatens to overtake her.

That is, until the traumatic moment Mads collides with a body in the middle of the lake. After swimming the body back to shore, Mads becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of the woman and what drove her to leap off of the Aurora Bridge. Determined to discover more, Mads parks outside the woman’s home and sees the woman’s son: the sweet and tormented Billy Youngwolf Floyd.

Through a series of not-so-happenstance meetings, Mads and Billy realize that desperate mothers and rescue missions are not the only thing that bonds them. Billy carries a map in his pocket; the one of the museum from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; and it’s his dream to visit the museum one day. And though book-loving Mads is expected to return home to her already-decided future, her dream is to run away to a life of her choosing.

As the unlikely pair fall hard for each other and as the summer draws to a close, Billy and Mads must decide whose story to follow: their family’s or their own.

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Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn’t sure about this book at first, partly because I hadn’t heard about it around any social media, partly because I dived right into the book without reading the synopsis. Despite this book having lots of great potential to be a poignant book about grief, loss, and love, I was disappointed by its end result.

The plot revolves around Mads, who comes across a body of a woman who committed suicide off a bridge. Mads, in turn, becomes obsessed and ends up connecting with the woman’s son, Billy. And this is where I lost interest. There was a premise of a plot but what ended up happening was that there was no further plot or any aspect of interest for me. Mads and Billy basically talk and rescue dogs and fall in love; there just wasn’t anything interesting.

As for the characters, the only aspect I gleaned from them was that they loved dogs and had to save them from bad owners. Despite the fact that this book is written in dual POVs from both Mads and Billy, I still didn’t really understand them or feel like I wanted to. They were both quite underdeveloped and had no real depth or character in them. Moreover, there were multiple characters in this book but I felt as if I got nothing from any of them.

Of course there was romance, but it didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t really feel anything for either of them, and I felt as if their kisses were too mechanical and not romantic at all. Whenever they kissed, there were mentions of what variety of foods the other tasted like and that didn’t seem very romantic to me and they just didn’t seem to have any aspect of chemistry between them.

So would I recommend? I’m not sure. I did not enjoy this book, and I ended up skimming through the last half of the book. This book really had a lot of potential to be bittersweet, but to me, it just became tedious to read. If you have more patience and perseverance than me or just enjoy reading sad (albeit boring) books, then I’m sure you’d like this one.

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Have you read this book yet? If not, are you planning to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!


10 thoughts on “ARC Review: Essential Maps for the Lost

  1. It was such a great premise of a book to me and it’s so disappointing to hear how much of a letdown it is! I was expecting much more mystery and a well-written romance with interesting characters which seems like this novels lacks altogether so I’ll be skipping this one for sure. Great review!


  2. I’ve seen this book pop up on blogs quite a bit lately and all with similar impressions of the book which to me tells me that it’s really not that great. It’s so disappointing too because it sounded like a great book.


  3. I love the title of this book. It really grabs your attention. It’s too bad the story was disappointing for you.


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