Cousins Liv and Nora decide to take their families on a joint cruise vacation. Everything is lovely until a misadventure occurs while they’re on shore in Central America. Suddenly the kids are missing.
I’m not going to say more than that. To say more would give away major spoilers. The book is told from many different viewpoints, adults and kids alike. Readers watch how the disaster unfolds, with people blaming each other or themselves or both, relationships of all kinds strained. Lots of Bad Stuff happens.**
This novel was a book club selection from the library, and when I read the synopsis, I was immediately intrigued. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love books set on cruises. Though the cruise portion of this was only the beginning chapters, I was delighted. It was a perfect depiction. I also loved how close these families were, cousins that are practically sisters, second-cousins who are as close as regular cousins. It reminded me a lot of my family. While so many modern books with thriller or dangerous-edge stories in them start with a lot of unlikable characters, this one started with a cast that I loved wholeheartedly, good people who had flaws but who were generally likable. It was a good beginning.
The rest continued to be wonderful. Suspenseful, the kind of can’t-put-down book where you’re horrified and overwhelmed but also completely drawn in. There was enough hope to counter all the tragedy and fear. Meloy struck a good balance. She also did a great job with the psychology, everyone from adults to children and how they dealt with the situation, during and after.
I’ve never heard of the author before now, but I’m definitely inclined to read more of her books, especially if they end up being just as good as this one!
**Trigger warning (highlight to read, spoiler alert): rape