After an unnerving encounter in a local fast-food chain, Annabelle runs. She runs and decides she can’t stop anytime soon. She isn’t prepared for a cross-country run, but she can’t bear to turn back to her hometown and school where she is haunted by flashbacks of The Taker, and what he took. Her mother is appalled, with graduation coming and concern that Annabelle isn’t thinking rationally. But her little brother, her friends, and her grandfather seem to understand that running to Washington DC is something she needs to do in her bones. So her grandfather takes off after her in his RV, her friends set up a GoFundMe, and her brother helps her map out a route. Along the way, Annabelle will still have to battle her mental encounters with the Taker, with strangers who know her face from the press, and she’ll also have to batter down her own guilt to let the people in who are there for her.
This is the first book in a bit that I found myself digging into with eagerness. The audio performance by Julia Whelan is fantastic: brisk, but emotional. The mystery of who The Taker was and his crimes on Annabelle is woven in wonderfully. It becomes mostly clear what happened about 1/3 of the way through the book, but little additional seeds dropped by the author still have punch. This is my first Deb Caletti book, despite her being a staple of young adult literature. It did not disappoint! If I had one quibble, it is that at one point it becomes a little preachy about the social issues it surrounds (and I am on the side of the preacher in this case). But it’s a subject that is difficult not to speech about and the rest of it is so well done, I don’t mind too much about the quibble.
I’d recommend it to fans of Nicola Yoon and Gayle Forman!