Dead To You
Simon Pulse/February 7, 2012
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...
This is not your typical young adult novel. No vamps, angels or end-of-world scenarios here. What there is, is a underlying feel of something not quite right. It's expected there would be a period of adjustment for the family after Ethan's miraculous return. The adjusting goes both ways with Ethan and his family trying to understand what happened in the past and what is happening now. McMann does well to keep the tension high without letting it overwhelm the characters.
The happy homecoming is filled with tears and awkwardness. Ethan's memory loss leaves him in an unknown world filled with people and places that have little meaning to him. He's taken to the home he grew up in and yet any memories he has are two dimensional, leaving him questioning what memories are real and what are imagined. He's not the only one who has questions. His parents welcome him with open arms but his younger brother Blake desperately needs to know why Ethan got into the car the day he was kidnapped. His sister Gracie doesn't know him, she was born after Ethan was kidnapped. Ethan's relationships with his siblings are polar opposites with Gracie taking Ethan for who he is while Blake is suspicious and wanting answers.
As Ethan questions the memories he does have of his family and home the conflict within the family continues to grow. Ethan is busy trying to fit in not only with his family but at school. He slowly begins to form a new life for the new person he is becoming but all does not go according to plan. I liked how Ethan is portrayed as a typical teen in some instances but then something will trigger his anxiety and he shows that he is not adjusting as well as he pretends to be.
Dead to You is a quick read but does manage to pack some emotional punch. The pacing is slow at first and took me a while to get into the story but it does begin to pick up as the tension in the family rises. As the ending neared the revelations come as no real surprised and the story felt as though it was abruptly cut off, leaving me with a sense of incompleteness.