We Now Return to Regular Life
The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown.
Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.
Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.
And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.
As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.
For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn’t want you to be.
When Sam was 11 just a bratty younger brother, as far as his sister, Beth, was concerned he was abducted. Now, three years later, he's been found. Beth shares narrating duties with Sam's old neighbor Josh, which makes for a rounded view of both the disappearance and life afterward. Now 17, Beth is used to a mother who's only half there, and she's made new friends who never knew Sam. Josh, now a high school freshman, still has a secret, but he's no longer the loser he felt like back when Sam was taken. Wilson (What They Always Tell Us) effectively shows how complex it can be to adjust to change, even when it's positive. Beth is suddenly interesting to people she doesn't know, her long-absent father reappears, her mother goes into maternal overdrive, and no one knows what to say to Sam. Josh doesn't either, but he wants to be Sam's friend, even though his other friends don't understand why. Though the book starts slowly, once the characters are established, it offers a moving and believable depiction of a damaged survivor and what his return means to those around him. Ages 14 up.