Published by Balzer & Bray, HarperCollins on January 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Family, Parents, Social Issues, Depression & Mental Illness
eARC provided by Balzer & Bray
The Mystery of Hollow Places is a gorgeously written, stunningly original novel of love, loss, and identity, from debut author Rebecca Podos.
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist; she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed of a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”
Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
Seventeen year old Imogene is being raised by her Father and step-mother, Libby. Her mother walked out when she was two. When she wakes up to find her Father is gone, she tries to figure out what motivated him to leave, where he went, and how to get him back. Imogene is determined to find her father throughout the story. Her father is a medical mystery writer, and Imogene has been learning his style her whole life. Imogene doesn’t trust the police to find her father. She alone really knows him, and his history. Aided by her best friend Jessa, Imogene follows the clues her father left to find him.
This book had me at the first sentence.
The bedtime story my dad used to tell me began with my grandmother’s body.
The story was written so well. I consumed this book in one day. I loved the flow of writing so much in this story. At first, I thought this was a fantasy story, but then I came to understand that the fairy tale told in the beginning just helped to shape the journey of a young girl. This author has a gift for telling a story. There were well fleshed out characters in this story and I fell in love with all of them. The author has great command of the language and I loved how the story just flowed. There were a few words I had to highlight and add to my list. The author brilliantly sprinkled words like übermensches and Machiavellian into the story for the reader to enjoy.
Imogene is believable character. Everyone is this book is well described and seems genuine. Imogene goes on a quest in this this book, but she comes to discover herself more than anything else. Imogene is a bit of a loner, but her best friend Jess does everything she can to help her change that. Jess is about the best best-friend anyone could hope for. She is not perfect though. Of course, there is a crush in this story. Like most girls Imogene falls for the most popular guy. The romance isn’t the main aspect of this story. I think it added a lot to the story, since this was about a teenage girl.
So I have a crush. A crush is not a contract. I am obligated to do nothing more than feel all my feelings and then close them up and put the back on the shelf, to be taken out and revisited like any familiar story that feels safe precisely because the ending never changes.
The thing that really sets this book apart, for me, was the family aspect of the story. Imogene loves her father very much. She has always wondered about her mother, but her step-mother Libby is a good person. Libby is good for Imogene and does everything she can to keep it together for a young girl that has lost her mother and now her father. Libby does typical parenting stuff like grounding her and making her check in. It is so refreshing to see a book where the young adult is loved and cared for.
Lindy to Imogene: “Imogene Mei Scott, you need to realize that you’re a strong young woman who is perfectly capable of having a great time sans male.”
The other thing I just have to mention is that nobody is perfect in this story. All the characters have flaws and nothing magically falls into place for anyone. Although the step-mother Libby is a therapist, depression is a real theme throughout the story. The thing about depression is that there is no magic cure. It can go into remission and then rear it’s ugly head at anytime. There are real life lessons in here. The story is messy and like real life, there are no easy answers.
In case you hadn’t guess by now, I loved this story. The adventure was fun and full of real places in New England I have actually been to. Some of the things that happen are a bit unbelievable, but it is a well told tale. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written YA mystery. This is an author I will definitely be reading more from in the future.