Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Teen/YA Review: Out of Reach

In search of a quick book to read before the official start of my Big Book Summer Challenge last month, I turned to my stuffed shelf of middle-grade and YA books waiting to be read. Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos caught my eye, with its silver National Book Award Finalist medallion on the cover. I've never read anything by Arcos before (looks like this was her second novel), and this 2012 release was engrossing, with interesting characters addressing real-life issues.

Rachel is just one year younger than her brother, Micah, so they've always been close ... until recent years when she could feel him drifting away from her. She knew he was doing drugs, but she always figured he was in control and that rehab would help. After all, he was a decent student with great friends and a cool band that was actually pretty good. Then, the summer after his high school graduation (which he did not attend), Micah disappeared. He just left in the middle of the night. Now, months later, Rachel and her parents are no longer expecting him to just walk back in the door and are living in a terrifying state of limbo, wondering what happened to him. Rachel receives an anonymous e-mail, telling her that Micah is in a nearby beach town and that he needs her help. She asks his best friend, Tyler, to come with her to look for him, figuring they will find him and bring him home. Their quick day trip turns into a 24-hour odyssey, involving some leads on where Micah has been but also some very dark and disturbing people and places. As Rachel's search for Micah becomes more desperate, she and Tyler get to know each other better; he's the only person in the world who truly understands.

This may sound like an intense thriller-type novel, but it is more of a slow-burn mystery and an in-depth character study. The author delves deep into Rachel and her relationship with her brother, using flashbacks to take a closer look at his downward spiral into meth addiction. Her long talks with Tyler over the course of 24 hours, as they follow leads from one person to another in the strange town, also reveal more of both her own personality and her connection with Micah, including her guilt over not doing enough to stop him. There is some mild suspense, as they search for Micah in the unfamiliar world of addicts and the homeless, but the real focus here is on Rachel slowly coming to terms with what's happened to her brother, how it affects her, and how she can begin to move forward in her own life. There is an underlying thread of romance, too, as she and Tyler get closer and bond over their shared mission, even though they've known each other for most of their lives. I was completely immersed in this new-to-me world and learned a lot about the effects of addiction in one person on an entire family.

250 pages, Simon Pulse

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible, from the first chapter as Rachel describes the start of Micah's downfall into drugs.

You can purchase Out of Reach from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Out of Reach from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I feel like I've read this book, but I had to go back to my blog to be sure. I did enjoy it, giving it 4/5. It's nice to be reminded of books we've read in the past.

    1. That tells you how long it's been sitting on my TBR shelves! ha ha