May 27, 2015
Author: Anne Heltzel
Pub. Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own.
No one knows whom to trust in this thrilling tale of suspense and deception.
Question: Why a world traveler?
It was important to me to take Lena, Aubrey, and Charlie on an international adventure because I find that travel opens a lot of creative doors. I like to set my books in places I know well, and I’ve lived in both Paris and Mumbai for extended periods of time. It’s much easier as a writer to create atmosphere when you’ve experienced a place. For Mumbai, this meant knowing the way the air feels (thick, heavy, damp), knowing the way it smells, remembering exactly what it was like to explore places like Chor Bazaar and Kala Ghoda Café (a favorite writing spot back in the day). I could talk all day about the places I loved in Mumbai and hope to visit again. When a city leaves an emotional impression, you know you’re going to revisit it in your writing. Paris was a less emotional experience but is a beautiful city that I know how to write about a little. And the other cities my characters visited (London, Bangkok, Montreal, etc) were places I’ve spent a little time in. So from a technical standpoint, it was easier for me to write about these cities than any others in the world (aside from my native New York). I can also romanticize them, because I’ve had a few years’ distance.
In terms of story itself, though, why not go clubbing in London; stay in a fabulous, fabled hotel in Mumbai; eat fish balls on the streets of Bangkok? These are experiences that enriched my own life and will hopefully be fun for readers to experience via the eyes of my characters. Why not travel (via literature or otherwise) when you can? Why not write about it? It’s glamorous, exciting, and challenging. And it lends itself to a twisty plot with more room for surprises. Many of the circumstances Lena and Aubrey found themselves in (on the boat in Kerala, for example) simply couldn’t have occurred elsewhere. Widening the girls’ worlds allowed for Charlie to disappear more easily. It gave me the ability to introduce secondary characters with varied cultural backgrounds. The cliffhanger ending in particular couldn’t have happened if the book had been set in the U.S.
This book was freaking crazy. I was hooked from the first page, with Aubrey and Lena and the train wreck that you knew was going to unfold. Surprisingly I found myself liking both Aubrey and Lena. The book is written with 3 view points. Aubrey, Lena and Charlie. The interesting thing here was that I didn’t mind this POV switching! Which *gasp* I know is astounding, considering how many books I’ve dropped in rating because of POV switches. It worked in this book though, and it was really the only way to make sense of what was happening to Lena and Aubrey.
This book is a twisting, mind-fuck. That being said it had a fairly slow start that was alot of build up, it kept me intrigued though. This book was like a maze, and I figured that Lena was right. Charlie had to be alive, there were too many weird things surrounding his death, although I do have to give Charlie props for being inventive and creative. However, this book ends on the mother of all cliffhangers. I seriously have never been so stunned in my life. Then to hear that there was confirmation from HMH that it is a stand-alone with no sequel just kills me.
That being said, it’s kind of like the movie Prisoners where you don’t know what’s going to happen to these characters. Do they survive? Meet up? Get rescued?? I DON’T KNOW!!!! But somehow even with the cliffhanger ending, which I hate! I still have to give this book 4 stars. I would have given it 5 but…..the cliffhanger. Sorry not sorry. I need a better ending than this if I’m going to give it a 5 star rating. So dear author, please consider writing a sequel so I can see my ending and upgrade my review. 😉
I’m sure she’ll do this just for me…..right. Let’s go with it guys.
ANNE HELTZEL is a Brooklyn-based author and editor of children’s books. Anne was born in Ohio, has been a voracious reader since the age of three, and credits her careers in publishing and writing (both lifelong dreams–just ask to see her childhood journal) to a serendipitous coffee shop conversation during her senior year of college. Anne was on a law school track until the aforementioned fateful conversation prompted her to switch gears and move to New York City, where she entered an M.F.A. program. In 2007 she began her first job in publishing. In 2008 she graduated from The New School with a master’s degree in Writing for Children. Anne has since lived in India and Paris, and has taught writing and reading workshops in each of her former homes. More recently, she participated as a mentor in NYC’s Girls Write Now program. When she is not writing, Anne is furiously (and passionately) editing novels for a Manhattan publishing house. She is represented by Stephen Barbara at InkWell Management. Anne also writes under the pseudonym Anna Collomore.
Author Photo by Kristi Hedberg Photography
3 winners will receive a finished copy of CHARLIE, PRESUMED DEAD and a Gold Rose Necklace – Antique Gold Pewter Rose Charm on a Delicate 18 Inch Gold Plated Cable Chain. Photo Below. US Only.
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