When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
Heavy Read but Good
This story expresses the point of view of Anna Hart who is a seasoned missing person detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.
The crime is scarily similar to a crime that occurred during a pivotal time in Anna’s childhood. The unsolved murder of a young girl touched the town and changed the people who lived there forever. When past and present collide, Anna realizes she was brought back to her hometown for a reason and that her upbringing and life experience gives her insight into how the victims are selected and how they come in contact with this killer. As Anna becomes consumed with the history and needs to save these girls, she must come to terms with the fact that to help others she might need to help herself by letting others in.
Intertwining together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propelling and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives and come to terms with the fact that we are not meant to live life alone.
What I enjoyed with this novel is that when it begins we are immediately caught up in whatever Anna is running from. You can feel that she is running from love and heartbreak and all this information is given to the reader in little pieces. I enjoyed meeting characters from her past and her time in the system and how the author used that as a way to connect her to the victims she is trying to save. What was also well done was the cast of supporting characters in the town. What I love most and why this is such a high-rated four-star read for me is the fact that the author blends Anna’s past and present so beautifully that by the end of the book I feel like the character comes out as a whole person. The transition is beautiful and shows how having community and faith in yourself is important to make an impact in helping others.