I usually like to let a story simmer a bit before writing a review, but this time I am making an exception because Chasing Amanda by Melissa Foster is exceptional. What a marvelous and uplifting story. The writing is superior to nearly all novels I have read, and the editing left few issues to trip over as I traversed the story.
Molly is the Chasing Amanda heroine, a woman plagued by complacency guilt. Her “gut” told her to intervene in a potential child abduction eight years past, but she lacked faith in her own feelings and hard facts on which to act. After the child, Amanda, is murdered, Molly blames herself. Consumed by guilt, she becomes so depressed and dysfunctional that she nearly destroys her marriage and family. In an attempt to rebuild her life, she and her family re-locate to Boyds, MD. Over several years, she manages an incomplete and a shaky recovery, but is then confronted with a similar situation when another little girl, Tracy, is kidnapped. Once again, Moly is confronted with “The Knowing”, paranormal visions that enable her to feel and “see” the terror experienced by the missing child. She vows not to fail Tracy, as she had Amanda, and is determined to follow the powerful seizure-like visions that grip her body when The Knowing overtakes her. The police and her husband believe she’s losing her mind, but her son has faith in her … and visions of his own.
The writing is superb; the novel is spellbinding. I especially enjoyed the dialog between Moly and her son because Melissa Foster nailed it. The vernacular is current—the exact phrases and expressions one would expect from a young man. I also enjoyed the third person presentation that enabled me to know what each character was thinking. I could literally feel Tracy’s terror as she was dropped into the “bad spot”, a deep hole that her abductor covered with plywood and dirt as part of a behavior re-shaping program. That scene still makes me shudder.
I will not give the plot away, but I will say two things about it. First, I had no idea who the perpetrator was until near the end of the story. I thought I did, a couple of times, but I was wrong. Somehow Melissa Foster managed to cast a cloak of suspicion over lots of innocent people. I did not feel intentionally misled, but I wouldn’t want to play chess with Melissa Foster either. Second, the story is an emotional roller-coaster. If tears don’t slip down your cheeks several times as you read Chasing Amanda, especially near the end, then you probably need professional help.Chasing Amanda has an intricate and well-developed plot, and the characters are so vivid they could be real. I give this book a strong five-star rating; I’m delighted to have read it.
Please note: I will have Melissa Foster as a guest blogger on this site on Wednesday, 16 May 2012. Please plan to drop by and show her some love.
Thank you for reading,
James L. Hatch