Monday, September 19, 2016

The Girl Who Stayed, by Tanya Anne Crosby (author), Julie McKay (narrator)

Audible Studios, ISBN 9781531864965, September 2016

Zoe Rutherford has come home to Sullivan's Island to deal with cleaning up and preparing for sale the house she and her brother grew up in, which they've rented out for years since their parents died. At least, that's the ostensible reason. In reality, the house and its problems give her a place to go and a problem to work on. Zoe has, after eight years, left her abusive boyfriend, Chris, and right at the moment has no idea what she's doing next.

The problem is there's an unsolved mystery on Sullivan's Island: What happened to her sister Hannah, who disappeared when she was eight and Zoe was ten? Neighbor kid and Hannah's friend Gabby Donovan claimed Zoe did it, pushing Hannah into the water where the currents would carry her away. Zoe knows she didn't, and there was never any evidence that she did, but no other culprit or cause was ever found. It's haunted her all the years since. It's why she's never returned to Sullivan's Island.

But she still wants to know what happened to her sister. And she returns to the news that two young women have disappeared without a trace in the last few months.

She starts to work on the house, repairing the damage done by years of tenants, and discovering that, with no tug rope to pull down the stairs, no one had ever bothered to go up into the attic.

The attic where, she and her brother Nick had stored their parents' and grandparents' things that they hadn't wanted to either toss or take.

Zoe spends the next weeks uncovering her past, reexamin There'sing her past, rethinking her relationship with her often hostile father and loving but withdrawn mother. There's the matter of rebuilding her relationship with Nick, just six when Hannah disappeared, and retracing her own steps the day of that disappearance. There's the problem of her grumpy but unexpectedly kind neighbor, Walter Donovan, Gabby's uncle. There's re-meeting the people she grew up among--some who remember Gabby's claims and, some of them, simply remember a younger Zoe, whom they grew up with, played with, went to school with.

Zoe keeps telling herself and others that she's not staying, even while re-experiencing both the bad and the good of small town life. And Chris remains an ongoing concern. Is he really going to let her just walk away?

And the whole time, she's looking for clues to her sister's disappearance.

It's an atmospheric and character-driven story, well worth some of your time. Recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.