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Where You Can Find Me by Sheri Joseph
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Where You Can Find Me

by Sheri Joseph

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“Normal was a false god…” – Marlene Vincent

Caleb Vincent was eleven years old when he was abducted. Three years later the FBI has found him and returned him to his family in suburban Atlanta. As Caleb is hounded by the media and voyeurs and faces the beginning of high school, any degree of freedom seems impossible. His mother Marlene decides to move the children far from prying, prurient eyes to her mother-in-law’s farm in the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. The family adjusts to a new life in Costa Rica with some success. They learn Spanish, enroll in school and make friends – a semblance of normalcy. But then the past comes calling and Caleb is forced to choose whether he will remain with his family, with which he no longer feels sure he belongs, or return to the life he came to know when he was taken.

Where You Can Find Me by Sheri Joseph is a stunning psychological portrait of a family in the wake of tragedy and an unflinching exploration of their attempts to move forward. The maelstrom of conflicting emotions Caleb must carefully pick his way through is excruciating. Who is he now? Is he gay or straight? Is he permanently damaged? Is the person he used to be gone forever? Does he even deserve to be back with his family? Must fundamentally: is he good or bad?

While the premise of Where You Can Find Me is not particularly original – there have been several books in the last few years about kids who are returned – the author’s treatment of her subject sets her work apart. Josef does not shy from uncomfortable facts or emotional dilemmas that will make you squirm but neither does she present them in a lascivious fashion. Her goal is not to shock you but rather to coax you into considering the situation without knee-jerk reactions. Rich with insight, Josef’s prose is candid, but respectful, and her ability to imagine the profound cross-currents in this situation and engender empathy in circumstances that most of us can’t personally relate to, is remarkable.

The characters in Where You Can Find Me are well-defined and believable. You can tell when characters are individual and complex because they are flawed. You won’t always like the characters in this novel. Marlene can be flighty and irresponsible; Jeff can be reserved when he ought to be offering more of himself; little Lark, Caleb’s younger sister, is an anxious perfectionist who tries desperately to be mature beyond her years but, perversely, this sometimes lends her the peevish air of a petulant toddler.

As horrific and impressive are the large plot points in Where You Can Find Me, it’s the small details in this story that bring you up short and convey the magnitude of the changes each family member has endured. The simplest acts are fraught with possible pitfalls. “At the table that had been purchased the same year as the house, they sat for dinner, unable to remember who sat where.” Caleb’s father watched his son play the piano and wearing his glasses, neither of which he did before he was taken, and struggled to relate to this child as he is now, not as he was. “He was healthy, polite, so clearly present in his watchful way behind those glasses, and yet. Whose child was this? Over time, some tether must have snapped. Or had Jeff only let it go? The boy in his house belonged to others, …”

While the concept for this novel is usually found in a thriller, this is not a suspenseful action-packed story. The pacing can be somewhat slow in places. Josef has crafted a psychologically complex narrative where everything exists in shades of gray. There are no black or white absolutes to be found anywhere. If you prefer stories that deal in moral absolutes with clear good guys and bad guys you might want to look elsewhere. But if you feel like challenging yourself or are more comfortable with realism than parable, I highly recommend Where You Can Find Me.

Published in South85 Journal, Fall/Winter 2014 ( )
  TexasBookLover | Dec 15, 2014 |
This was a complex story about a family coping with loss. The characters were real and therefore flawed. I liked them all and found myself rooting for them as a family.

Received as an ARC. ( )
  elizabeth.b.bevins | Nov 4, 2014 |
This was a complex story about a family coping with loss. The characters were real and therefore flawed. I liked them all and found myself rooting for them as a family.

Received as an ARC. ( )
  ElizabethBevins | May 6, 2014 |
Disclaimer: i recieved this book through Goodreads First Reads program. Thank you St. Martin's Press ( Macmillan) for making this book available.

'Where You Can Find Me, lifts the picture from the milk carton, takes the headline 6:00 news story and presents us with a tale we are all famiar with; that of the missing, abducted child. The child, Caleb (aka) Nicky has been found and returned to his family after two years away or 'Gone' as he calls it. He's been kidnapped and held captive by pedophiles. What happens when he comes home to a family who no longer knows him? How does he reintegrate into his home and community. The truth is that everything has irrevocably changed. Relocation to a remote region of Costa Rica seems like the best solution to his mother. She takes Caleb and his younger sister, Lark, there to stay with her mother-in-law. Perhaps here Caleb, and, yes, the family can reinvent themselves.

Sheri Joseph has written a moving, complex novel. Joseph writes with very precise prose and very real characters. She manages to write about a tragic, horrible crime and how it affects the family, especially Caleb with grace and dignity.
'Where You Can Find Me' is a difficult read given the subject matter. Don't let that deter you as this is one of the most beautifully written books that I have read recently.

* After several weeks, I've upped my rating to 5 stars. Reason: I cannot forget it and its characters.
( )
  m2snick | Feb 19, 2014 |
Disclaimer: i recieved this book through Goodreads First Reads program. Thank you St. Martin's Press ( Macmillan) for making this book available.

'Where You Can Find Me, lifts the picture from the milk carton, takes the headline 6:00 news story and presents us with a tale we are all famiar with; that of the missing, abducted child. The child, Caleb (aka) Nicky has been found and returned to his family after two years away or 'Gone' as he calls it. He's been kidnapped and held captive by pedophiles. What happens when he comes home to a family who no longer knows him? How does he reintegrate into his home and community. The truth is that everything has irrevocably changed. Relocation to a remote region of Costa Rica seems like the best solution to his mother. She takes Caleb and his younger sister, Lark, there to stay with her mother-in-law. Perhaps here Caleb, and, yes, the family can reinvent themselves.

Sheri Joseph has written a moving, complex novel. Joseph writes with very precise prose and very real characters. She manages to write about a tragic, horrible crime and how it affects the family, especially Caleb with grace and dignity.
'Where You Can Find Me' is a difficult read given the subject matter. Don't let that deter you as this is one of the most beautifully written books that I have read recently.

* After several weeks, I've upped my rating to 5 stars. Reason: I cannot forget it and its characters.
( )
  m2snick | Feb 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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"A week after his eleventh birthday, Caleb Vincent vanishes with hardly a trace. After a three-year search, he is found living a seemingly normal life under a new name with a man he calls his father. While outwardly stunned with joy at his safe recovery, Caleb's parents and sister are privately scrambling to gather together the pieces of a shattered family. To escape the relentless media attention surrounding her son's return, Caleb's mother, Marlene, decides to flee the country and seek refuge in Costa Rica with Caleb and his younger sister, against her estranged husband's wishes. There Marlene forms a makeshift household with her husband's expat mother and his charming, aimless older brother, all residing in a broken-down hotel perched at the blustery apex of the continental divide. In the clouds of their new home, the mystery of Caleb's time gone unfolds while new dangers threaten to pull him back toward his former life"--From publisher's website.… (more)

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