Publish Date: September 4, 2018
“Nothing in this world is free; you just haven’t found out what it’s gonna cost yet.” – Leave No Trace
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
“A father had disappeared. A son was desperate to find him. And I would tell a thousand lies if it brought him one step closer.” – Leave No Trace
There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son, Josiah and Lucas, trekked into this wilderness and never returned. They were presumed dead until a decade later… Lucas appeared. Discovered while ransacking a store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility.
Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient and getting Lucas to answer questions about his father and the last ten years of his life.
But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too, and knows what it’s like to yearn to be with a parent. She’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who is somewhere deep in the woods of Boundary Waters.
“Be not simply good, be good for something.” – Leave No Trace
If I judged a book by its plot, I probably would have passed on this one. But Mindy Mejia wrote it, and even before I read the first word of this new novel, I knew that it was going to be really darn good.
I absolutely LOVED Mindy Mejia’s last book, Everything You Want Me To Be. If you want to see how much I gushed about it, here is my review on that book.
After reading EYWMTB, I decided that I’d read any story that Mindy Mejia chooses to tell. Her writing is engaging, and her characters are layered, messed up, but relatable because you can see a small part of yourself in each person. She also weaves an elaborate and descriptive backstory to help you understand each characters wants, needs, motivations, and desires.
Leave No Trace takes place in the unusual setting of the Boundary Waters area. Boundary Waters is a 1 million+ acre Minnesota wilderness that is a mixture of forests, glacial lakes, and streams. It’s a popular destination for canoeing, hiking, and fishing, and one of the most visited wildernesses in the United States. It also got me familiar with the cities around Lake Superior, like Duluth and Ely. Being a native Californian, I regret to say that I’ve never heard of this place until now, but thanks to this book these are now places that I’d love to see for myself.
The story gives a fascinating insight into the Congdon Psychiatric Facility, where the main character Maya works as a speech therapist and was a former patient. (I suspended my disbelief on how a former psych patient can become a therapist in the same place where she was committed.) Now she is treating patients, and her patient backstories riveted me.
I liked the strong connections that Maya and Lucas had with their fathers, and their shared experience on growing up without a mother.
“The thing no one understands, when your parent abandons you, is that it just doesn’t happen once. They leave every day, every moment that you remember them is a door slamming shut in your face. And with every slam, you believe – a little more each time – that you probably deserved it. ” – Leave No Trace
This story is about abandonment, nature, love, family, mental health, and the ties that bind us, sprinkled with a little bit of geology. It is fast paced, action packed, full of complex characters, and very well written. It makes me want to be outdoors, be one with nature, go camping and sleep under the stars.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Leave No Trace is completely different from Mindy Mejia’s last book, Everything You Want Me To Be, but it’s just as good. The plots are polar opposites, but both books share the same qualities that make them must-reads, and shows how talented this author is at storytelling. Don’t miss it!