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Out of Reach

Review

Out of Reach

Rachel was once very close to her year-older brother Micah, who taught her how to lie convincingly to their parents. As teens, the two frequently cover for each other. He doesn't tell their parents who Rachel dates in secret; she doesn't tell them where Micah goes or what he does. When Micah doesn't return home one night, Rachel catches her mother in a lie. Her mother tells her that her brother has gone off to visit their uncle in the Bay Area for the summer. But when Mom touches her temple with her left hand --- her "tell" for not being honest --- Rachel knows she is not telling the truth.

"I suspect those readers who insist on having an ending that is neatly tied up may be less than pleased with the conclusion. Others (including myself) will find the resolution believable and more than satisfying. It is no wonder that this riveting read is a National Book Award finalist."

The truth is Rachel has been disgusted with Micah for more than a year. That's when he started using meth. Although her parents had asked her back then about his drug use, she had lied to them, saying she didn't know and that she believed he had done just a little experimenting but nothing serious. Rachel knows that the first time Micah tried meth was at a party his band had been hired for. Someone had given him a tiny white pill, saying it would mellow him out. When it finally wore off, Micah confided in his sister that the high had made him feel like he could do anything in the world. Remembering that conversation later and knowing that that first experience set Micah up for a life-altering addiction, Rachel can't help but wonder if she could have intervened some way. Maybe it's her fault that he has become so messed up. She could have at least written a letter to her parents, informing them that their son was in serious trouble and possibly helping them with an intervention.

After Micah was introduced to meth, he began using it frequently. He believed it made him more creative and even almost gave him a superpower. After that initial phase, he began to need the drug to function. Eventually, their mother and father found out about Micah's drug problem, and they sent him to rehab after they discovered crystals in one of Micah's drawers. Their line continued to be: "Your brother will be fine," long after it was plain that he wasn't going to be. And then he was gone.

By August, Micah is still missing. People act weird about it, giving Rachel small, sad smiles and avoiding any talk about him. Rachel has decided she will not dwell on her missing brother. She has things to think about: her senior year will start in a couple of weeks, and she needs to fill out college applications. Then she gets an anonymous email, telling her that Micah is not doing well, and that he's living on the streets in the nearby seaside community of Ocean Beach. She tries to forget about it, but finally knows that she must go look for him, enlisting Tyler, Micah's band mate (and incidentally, the only friend of Micah's she can stand being around), to help her. The two set off for a search in which surprising revelations come to light.

OUT OF REACH is a true page-turner --- I devoured it in one very enjoyable evening. Rachel is a three-dimensional person on an urgent quest, which is both heartfelt and intriguing. The mystery of Micah wends through Rachel's own journey of self-discovery, which includes an inkling of romance. I suspect those readers who insist on having an ending that is neatly tied up may be less than pleased with the conclusion. Others (including myself) will find the resolution believable and more than satisfying. It is no wonder that this riveting read is a National Book Award finalist.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 18, 2012

Out of Reach
by Carrie Arcos

  • Publication Date: October 16, 2012
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • ISBN-10: 1442440538
  • ISBN-13: 9781442440531