Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Liv suggests that they skip the traditional Christmas this year. Her cousin, and best friend, Nora recently lost her mother and is not looking forward to the holiday so Liv comes up with the novel solution of a cruise up and down the western coast of North and South America. So both families, each with two kids, book passage for a unique late year getaway.

Liv, Nora and an Argentinean couple are the only parents with children on board the ship so they naturally gravitate towards each other. At a port in Latin America the husbands go to meet one of their friends for a round of golf while the women and kids decide to take a tour ziplining through the jungle. On the way to the zipline course the van breaks down. Knowing that they will never make their trip the guide calls in for another van and takes the three adults and six kids down to a local beach to enjoy the waters. It’s a sheltered area at the mouth of a river so there is no worry of sharks and the guide has inner tubes and other beach toys to make the impromptu trip enjoyable. All seems idyllic. The kids are all having a great time, two mothers doze on the beach and the guide goes to look at birds with Nora. When Nora returns to the beach she sees the two adults asleep and the beach and waters are empty. It seems that the kids were pushed up the river by the incoming tide. When the adults, and the authorities, finally find the abandoned inner tubes on the river bank they also find a freshly dug grave on the nearby roadside inhabited by a dead man with a bullet in his head. The kids were obviously taken by the gravediggers, but where? Are the kids okay? Will their guilt stricken parents ever see them again?

This book could have been written like a thriller, but it is more of a character study. You know what is going on with the children as well as the parents throughout the entire ordeal but that doesn’t mean there isn’t suspense. Awful things happen, very awful things, but as a reader you aren’t left in the dark like the parents of the missing children. What hit home most for me was the utter lack of street smarts the American children possessed. The reactions of these children seemed real; as did those of the parents. My only issue with the book was how well all the American characters came out of this ordeal; you’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean…

Put your holds on this book now, it comes out next week on June 6th!