Friday, January 29, 2016

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

For as long as she can remember, it's been just Imogene and her father. Sure their small family extended just a few years ago when Immy's stepmother entered the picture, but that didn't take away from the bond she's shared with her dad for so many years.

See, Immy's mother left when she was just two, abandoning her family and disappearing without a trace. But that was ok because Immy and her dad had each other. But now, Immy's dad has gone missing too. Immy thinks she's knows where he's gone, though, and is determined to follow the clues until she finds him - just like the character in the books her dad writes.

I'm still not quite sure how I feel about Rebecca Podos's debut. It's undeniably well written and Immy is a character I genuinely felt for. Her story, though, is heartbreaking bordering on tragic.

Her dad is bipolar and it's quickly discovered that he's gone off his meds and up and left. Yep. He left his teenage daughter who has already been abandoned by her mother. He does leave her in the hands of her stepmother, who's actually the most responsible adult in Immy's immediate circle - so there is that. But still...

Immy decides that her dad must have gone in search of her missing mother and that he must want her to find them. He left her clues - the geode that plays a big role in family lore and the series of mystery novels he's been penning most of Immy's life. And with the help of her steadfast best friend, Immy sets off on her investigation.

What Immy discovers about her own mother is not pleasant. Honestly, if the teen was a real person she'd be way more screwed up than Podos has actually written her. I know plenty of people can come out of situations like this as healthy adults but I've also witnessed enough mess along these lines that I know it's beyond difficult for anybody come out the other side without serious scars.

And I guess that's my real issue with why I can't decide whether I liked this book or not. As a mystery it's great. Immy is wonderful, her best friend is pretty awesome (something Immy does acknowledge herself), and even her stepmother, while still not exhibiting the best judgement for a family therapist, is an admirable character in Immy's life. The family drama, though, is a little to painful to make this a book I'd really enjoy.

Rating: 3/5

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