This is heartrending and haunting.
There’s just no other way to describe it. No, it wasn’t a fun or enjoyable book to read, by any means, but I’d read it again and again. I hope everyone gets the chance to pick this one up, because (and I don’t get to say this very often) everyone should read this book.
I STOP SOMEWHERE details Ellie’s before-and-after of being sexually assaulted and brutally murdered by her “boyfriend”. It’s the how and why, essentially: how she was lured, and why she was chosen specifically, out of several others.
Oh, and please note (because this confused me endlessly and I spent most of the time going WAIT WHAT, so I wouldn’t want that to happen to you:) When this book opens, Ellie is dead. And I mean, literally, not metaphorically dead. As in need-to-be-buried dead. She’s now basically a “ghost” detailing what lead up to her murder. (This took me so. long. to grasp, so I figured I’d clear that up right now).
Ellie’s character is developed through flashbacks to her “live” years and the time spent after. It’s a bit odd, initially, but you can easily get used to the style. In fact, I believe this non-linear characterization works extremely well, aesthetically speaking. It allows the reader to see the before and after shots side by side, as opposed to comparing the final page to the first one. This style is fitting, in a way, to the overall theme and message of the novel as a whole.
The depiction of the tragedies of the other girls is handled deftly, allowing ample time to discover others’ perspective and the effect on them. I particularly love how Ellie, repeatedly, goes into discussions about “what makes a girl”, whether it’s the objective or the abstract qualities, what other think, what she thinks, etc. It’s a recurring theme and a welcome one.
The writing is truly lovely. It’s supple and it’s flexible and it has this … rhythm, so to speak. It’s quite rare a style, actually; the closest writer I can find that writes like TE Carter is perhaps Marie Rutkoski, who writes in sentence fragments layered with full ones. THAT is what gives their writing this noticeable rhythm. I’m so glad I finally put my finger on what makes the prose special. It felt like deja-vu until I finally realized exactly what makes it tick.
This writing, though, needs to be seen to believed. Hold on a sec while I get you your quotes.
One of the factories, right on the river, is a brick behemoth. The age on it shows. Spray-painted tags, broken windows, padlocks and chains designed never to be cut or opened. Where there had to be a sign, an announcement of what this was, of what creation came from the hollow vastness of it, is now a darker patch of brick. Just a hint.
Once upon a time, there was.
That’s the theme of this town.
See what I mean? Or this:
It’s a dangerous companion, loneliness, and it scares me now, as it takes my side by the river. I can’t last an eternity with no other friend.
Or even this (which is my favorite):
She should be with her parents, and he should be with his daughter. But when the world breaks you into pieces, sometimes you find what’s left scattered among other people’s broken parts.
And this needs to be said, so: The title is lovely and fitting. I mean, the book also begins by quoting Walt Whitman, so. I’m endlessly impressed here.
All in all? A haunting narrative, a realistic lead, and lovely writing. I’ll definitely be coming back for more of this author’s works, because I simply love her style.
Thank you, Feiwel and Friends, for the ARC!
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Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.
Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.
But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.
The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.
TE Carter was born in New England and has lived in New England for pretty much her entire life. Throughout her career, she’s done a lot of things, although her passion has always been writing. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and their two cats.
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