The Summer We Lost Alice by Jan Strnad
Available in e-book format on Amazon ASIN: B009AHRWQE for $4.99.
Hands down, one of my most favorite reads this year. The Summer We Lost Alice is everything I love in a book- mystery, depth of characters and plot, a hint of the paranormal, and a solid ending. (Note, not necessarily a happy ending, but an ending that leads the reader to imagine the potential.) I love, absolutely love, getting to the end of a book and feeling hope in my own self that has translated so clearly from the hope felt by the author’s pen for these characters.
The Summer We Lost Alice is a case study of sorts of what happens to everyone else after someone we love goes missing, wrapped together in a wonderful novel of personal exploration, wrapped in turn in a creepy mystery. Ethan, our protagonist, is only nine years old when he is sent to live with relatives while his parents ‘work things out.’ It is during his visit that he is enraptured by his cousin, Alice. Free-spirited and without a care in the world, she is a mystery to Ethan. Then, suddenly, she is gone and he goes back to the city with his parents. Fast-forward twenty five years- Ethan is now a TV talk show icon. His success rides on the promise of closure as he brings words to loved ones from ‘behind the veil’ of death. Jaded and unhappy Ethan is a admitted charlatan, simply doing what he does to make people happy. Things go sideways for Ethan when a mysterious woman shows up in the audience on the same day he receives a mysterious on-air call from his aunt- it’s happening again; a child has gone missing. Ethan embarks on a journey back to the small town he has avoided and the root of his disbelief in all things intangible.
Strnad’s writing is enthralling. I was pulled in and it was tough to let go – even at the end of the book. I wanted more. I love when that happens! The emotional depth of the characters he has created in this novel is exceptional. You know these small town people; they are out there and this is what makes the paranormal and ‘spooky’ side of this book so believable.