Jory and Liv Brewer are as opposite as siblings can get.
The one thing they seem to have in common: horrible parents.
Liv: Paraded through the kiddie pageant circuit by their domineering mother, Liv is known to be spoiled and full of rage. Once followed everywhere by cameras as part of a reality television show, now Liv’s star seems to be dimming.
Jory: Older brother, Jory, has been pushed into the background of the ‘Princess Liv’ show his whole life. Jory suffers from Moebius Syndrome which displays itself outwardly through partial facial paralysis. This makes speech difficult for him and he struggles to be understood. Constantly in the shadow of his sister, Jory has come to resent her and everything her vapid life stands for.
The book begins as the family heads to court. Liv is suing her parents for emancipation and her earnings from beauty contestant days. Estranged from the family, she has been living outside of the home for months.
You quickly come to understand, through their dialogue and recollections, that both Liv and Jory have been traumatized by their unconventional upbringing. Their mother is manipulative and superficial and their father is an emotionally abusive and unavailable drunk.
Over the course of this narrative there is not one fleeting moment of humanity to be found in either parent. Is it any wonder the kids are full of resentment and rage? But what happens when the parents disappear?
Forced to work together to try to figure out where their parents have gone, Jory and Liv undertake a late night road trip into the desert because, honestly, what could go wrong?
I will admit, the first couple of chapters, building up to the road trip, I did not think I was going to like this. The story is told in alternating perspectives between Jory and Liv. They both seemed so negative and angry, I didn’t like them at all but once the road trip started, I couldn’t put it down. Literally, could not stop thinking about it.
Reading like an episode of The Twilight Zone this book played on my anxieties. A dark road, late at night, nothing around, getting lost, not having enough water, etc. It built some serious tension. There were definitely scenes that chilled me to the bone.
I do feel that this book will not necessarily be for everyone. There isn’t a lot of action. We have two characters in a car for most of the book, hashing out their differences and then we have both of them recollecting their childhood. As I got farther and farther in, I really began to connect to the characters. I understood more of where they were coming from and why it drove them to hold such resentments against one another.
I felt real growth with both characters and towards the end I was rooting for them. I had theories on where this was going, it’s an odd little story, but it didn’t end the way I thought it was going to. It played nicely with temporality in a way I found unique.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it for people who don’t need to instantly fall in love with every character and who like their stories a bit on the eerie side.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I always appreciate an opportunity to read a book early. I look forward to hearing what others readers this of this one!