Thursday, March 17, 2016

Discover What Happens After the Woods

I enjoy reading YA material from time to time. Kim Savage's debut novel, After the Woods, is a YA thriller about two high school aged girls who met with a psychopath one day as they ran through the local forest preserve on a routine training practice for their track team. Julia threw herself in harms way to protect her best friend, Liv who managed to escape her would-be abductor. Liv ran away to safety, leaving Julia to face the worst on her own.

The bulk of the story is Julia's recovery from the trauma she endured in the woods as she pieces together exactly what happened during the hours she was held captive and escaped only to be hunted by her captor. In the process, Julia gains new insight into her herself, and more importantly into best friend, Liv. Julia gains a bigger vision of the events that conspired to bring them to this point in their lives.

I enjoyed the story! It was a quick read for me as the narrative compelled me to keep reading to discover the puzzle pieces and put them together along with Julia. I felt the characters were believable and easy to relate to, even those a bit more on the periphery. There is just enough tension throughout the various levels of the story to make a reader want to know more.

Issues of how victims and survivors react to trauma were enlightened with a variety of examples from Julia to Liv and their respective mothers as well. Questions of how to best assist the girls to get them to redefine "normal life" and how to best get them back into the swing of "normal life" are at the heart of the story. The role of the media and the public's right to information that is in the interest of public safety and the sensitivities (or lack thereof) add another layer to the story as well. It was interesting to see how therapists, the church, friends, the police and the local reporter who is counting on the case to keep her career afloat are all interwoven into the heart of the story.

I will be looking forward to more from this author! And my thanks to the publisher for the ARC I received in exchange for this honest review!

From the Publisher . . .

"Statistically speaking, girls like me don't come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us."

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can't fully remember. Now it's one year later, and a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving Julia in a stupor at awkward moments-in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example.

At least Julia's not alone. Her best friend, Liv, was in the woods, too. When Julia got caught, Liv ran away. Is Liv's guilt over leaving Julia the reason she's starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with an explosive temper, Liv's way of punishing herself for not having Julia's back? As the devastating truth about Liv becomes clear, Julia realizes the one person she thinks she knows best-Liv-is the person she knows least of all. And that after the woods was just the beginning.

About the Author . . .

Kim Savage was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, and received her degree in English from Stonehill College. She lives with her husband and three children north of Boston, Massachusetts. After the Woods is her debut novel.

On her website, Savage writes:

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, on the South Shore, which sounds beachy, even luxe. Think Winnebagos and chicken coops. My three brothers, 16, 10, and 8 years older, were teens by the time I became a person. Happiest around adults, who often forgot I was there, I spent days eavesdropping on gossipy moms in lawn chairs and nights listening under the table during tipsy Scrabble parties.

My dad read to me nightly. Eventually and early, I read to myself, everywhere. On top of an enormous freezer chest stuffed with meat. On drives until I grew nauseous. In bed until my eyes gave out. I read anything I could get my hands on. V.C. Andrews and Dickens. Black Beauty and the Bible. The Economist. Madeline L’Engle and Margaret Atwood. National Geographic.

I got a bachelor’s degree in English from Stonehill College and a Master’s in Journalism from Northeastern University. For a while, I worked as a business journalist. Instead of waiting for the Federal Reserve to release the Beige Book, I pitched story ideas along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You see where things were headed.

Today, I live with my family northwest of Boston in a town a lot like Shiverton, near the real Fells reservation of AFTER THE WOODS. Born with dysgeographica—I’m directionally challenged—the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to my skin.

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