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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Out of Reach, written by Carrie Arcos. Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster, 2012. $19.99 ages 14 and up

"The man asked for my hand, and for some reason I gave it to him, as if it would be the most natural thing for him to read it and tell me my future. He drew a small heart with his finger in the middle of my palm and closed it with his calloused hand. "Love. The most important drug of all." I smiled at him. He dropped my hand, but I could still see the shape of the heart as if it had been tattooed."

The time  frame is twenty-four hours. During that time Rachel and Tyler find their way to a place where it has been suggested they might find Rachel's brother Micah. It also allows time for Rachel to recall all those events that have led to this search for her drug-addicted sibling.

As we join Rachel and Tyler in their search, we are made painfully aware of the effect of Micah's addiction on the entire family. Each one is affected in very different ways. Rachel just wants him to come home, to be her brother again; she also wants him to be the sibling she adores, and healthy. She feels guilt for knowing much about  Micah that she did not share with her parents, and for always being the 'good' child in their family. But, she's mad, too. She wants to reach out and hurt him because he has hurt her.

While we don't see the downward spiral happening, we are certainly aware of its impact on everyone concerned. So many things have happened because of his addiction, and Rachel knows them all. Still, she wants to follow any clue that might lead her to finding him and bringing him home. Tyler is a good friend, and a strong support during the day they spend following leads and always missing Micah. As they make their way through those woeful places where you might find a seriously addicted musician, Rachel begins to understand that nothing she has done made Micah turn to drugs. He chose that path himself.

By beginning to let go of some of her grief and guilt, she starts to understand that, ultimately, she can do nothing to bring Micah back unless he wants the same thing. Her search for Micah leads her to discover much about herself. We leave with a feeling of hope for her own future and a fervent wish that Micah might find his way back to family.

In her debut novel, Carrie Arcos shows great promise. This book was a National Book Award finalist, and deservedly so. Congratulations, Carrie!

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