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Title: True Places
Author: Sonja Yoerg
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: January 1, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.11
A girl emerges from the woods, starved, ill, and alone…and collapses.
Suzanne Blakemore hurtles along the Blue Ridge Parkway, away from her overscheduled and completely normal life, and encounters the girl. As Suzanne rushes her to the hospital, she never imagines how the encounter will change her—a change she both fears and desperately needs.
Suzanne has the perfect house, a successful husband, and a thriving family. But beneath the veneer of an ideal life, her daughter is rebelling, her son is withdrawing, her husband is oblivious to it all, and Suzanne is increasingly unsure of her place in the world. After her discovery of the ethereal sixteen-year-old who has never experienced civilization, Suzanne is compelled to invite Iris into her family’s life and all its apparent privileges.
But Iris has an independence, a love of solitude, and a discomfort with materialism that contrasts with everything the Blakemores stand for—qualities that awaken in Suzanne first a fascination, then a longing. Now Suzanne can’t help but wonder: Is she destined to save Iris, or is Iris the one who will save her?
While out driving, and taking a break from her exhausting life and family, Suzanne comes across a teenage girl. The girl, Iris, is in need of medical attention, and Suzanne rushes the girl to get help. While Iris is in the hospital, it is revealed that she has been living on her own in the wilderness. Suzanne offers to take Iris into her home while the authorities try to locate relatives of Iris. Suzanne’s husband and teenage kids, a son and a daughter, all have different reactions to Iris living with them and being in their lives.
Told with alternating points of view, this novel focuses on Suzanne and Iris, but also presents POVs from Suzanne’s family – Whit (husband), Reid (son), and Brynn (daughter). Suzanne is dissatisfied with her life, and not really sure where things took a wrong turn. She wants more, and is increasing frustrated with her husband, children, and parents. Iris has lived her life in solitude and has a close connection to nature. Her entire world is turned upside down when she meets Suzanne, and she is faced with a modern life she doesn’t necessarily want to be a part of. Whit works hard and adores his wife, but he has some misguided ideas about what is best for his family. Reid is a bit of an idealist, and butts heads with his parents, especially his father, on what is important. Brynn is a mean girl who manipulates people to get her way, but is also a little lost herself.
The characters are a mix of likable and unlikable. The female characters are all better developed than the male characters. I would have preferred a little more depth on both Whit and Reid, because I believe both of them could have been more complex. Ultimately, each of the characters is trying to find their own way and be happy. Some of the character’s decisions and actions comes across as selfish, but some turn out to be uplifting.
This was an enjoyable read and one I can think of a few people to recommend it to. That said, the story is mostly predictable and the characters are somewhat stereotypical. Basically, it’s a well-written novel that’s good for fans of contemporary women’s fiction.
This was my pick for Amazon’s First Reads in December 2018.