From the New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters . . . Years ago, five-year-old Ellie disappeared. But then her sister finds her photograph in the pages of a magazine, leading her to ask: Was Ellie ever really missing?
“Invites comparison to The Lovely Bones . . . Ward’s depiction of family, with its attendant love and guilt, will keep you turning pages.”—People
Joseph and Isabelle Winters seem to have it all: a grand home in Holt, New York, a trio of radiant daughters, and a sense that they are safe in their affluent corner of America. But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the family are exposed: Joseph, once a successful businessman, succumbs to his demons; Isabelle retreats into memories of her debutante days in Savannah; and Ellie’s bereft sisters grow apart—Madeline reluctantly stays home, while Caroline runs away.
Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in a magazine. Convinced that it is Ellie all grown up, Caroline embarks on a search for her missing sister. Armed with copies of the photo, an amateur detective guide, and a cooler of Dixie beer, Caroline travels through the New Mexico desert, the mountains of Colorado, and the smoky underworld of Montana, determined to salvage her broken family.
Ward (Sleep Toward Heaven) tracks a young woman's search for her missing sister and herself with economy and compassion in this believable and moving tale of hope's ability to best the most unforgiving of sorrows. As a teenager, Caroline enlists her younger sisters to run away to New Orleans from the suburbs of New York, far from their angry, alcoholic father and sad, tipsy mother. Striking in its innocence and urgency (the girls decide to steal the family's Oldsmobile; they buy sunscreen and trail mix), the attempt derails when Caroline's youngest sister, Ellie, disappears from school on the day the girls had planned to run away. The aftershocks of Ellie's disappearance are magnified by family secrets, which Ward deftly reveals in seemingly unrelated stories (not narrated by Caroline). Now a hard-drinking New Orleans cocktail waitress a long way from creating a family of her own, Caroline determines to bring together her mother and her sisters. Readers, knowing more than their narrator, will feel the tension rise as Caroline travels cross-country to find Ellie, dead or alive, once and for all. An emotional journey as much as a physical one, the quest helps Caroline grow up, and gives Ward a perfect vehicle to explore how belief can be as important as truth.