Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Thursday, February 23, 2012

Plot Summary:
Nine years ago, Ethan was abducted by two men in a black car. He was only seven years old and his little brother, Blake, saw Ethan jump into the car. Nine years have passed and Ethan has no memory of his real family except for the pictures that he feels attached to. After finding his family, Ethan must take back what is his and resume of life of normalcy. However, the house, the people, the memories are nothing but blank canvases? Why can't he remember the fun times he had with his parents? How can he explain to his brother why he jumped into that car? Although the family seemed to have moved forward with life (Ethan has a little sister now), when they got the call that he had been found, everything turned upside down. What is even harder is that his "BFF" happens to be hottest girl he has ever seen, yet he can't remember here. Despite the awkwardness of reacquainting himself with his loved ones, but the person who is hit the hardest is not Ethan, but his brother, Blake. Why couldn't he accept the fact that his big brother has been found? Why does Ethan feel that something is missing?

Critical Evaluation:
Honestly, I could not put this book down. Lisa McMann delivered an incredibly suspenseful and heartbreaking tale of a boy who was kidnapped as a child. Not only is this story a quick read, it will appeal to those who want to read about issues such as child abduction and its effects on those who were traumatized. Ethan's character is so complex and his experiences are so heartbreaking that one would be more than happy to see him with his family again. However, what most people don't take into account, is that the person who was kidnapped has to find a way to transition themselves back to normalcy and even relate to their own family. Moreover, with a child as young as Ethan was, readers will learn the effects of Stockholm Syndrome, especially when he admits that he does not like bad-mouthing the woman who abducted him. The psychological war that is going on in Ethan's head is very real including the way Blake treats him; it was hard to see Ethan's brother treat him like a complete stranger and, eventually, a complete fake. The bond between Ethan and Gracie is just precious. Gracie was born after Ethan's disappearance so his sudden appearance is just as tough on Gracie as it is Ethan. Although the ending leaves the reader hanging, it leaves room for a possible sequel that will explain what happened to Ethan when he ran away. This is an incredibly moving tale about family dynamics.

Information about the Author:
Lisa McMann was born on February 24 in Holland, Michigan and eventually moved to Arizona with family in 2004. She had two brothers and sisters who have given many nieces and nephews. According to her website:
The first summer we lived here, we totally tried frying an egg on the sidewalk. Basically, it made a mess. We try to go on vacation during the summer to get out of Phoenix, and I usually do a conference or two if it’s in a nice-weather city in order to escape the heat. In the fall, winter and spring, the weather here suits me just fine. I like to cook, swim, read, and hang out with my husband and kids. I also love watching reality TV shows, even the sappy ones that make me cry, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
Genre:
Teen Suspense, Teen Contemporary Fiction

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Dead to Me:
Awards & Recognition:

" McMann's narrative is layered and emotional, with constant questions about family dynamics, identity and reconciliation. While an amnesia-based plot risks a quick foray into formula, this resists, balancing the fractured nature of Ethan's recollections nicely with the character's development. The sibling rivalry builds secondary tension and suspense."

"McMann's gripping new novel...will leave readers burning for closure long after its chilling ending.... [Her] succinct first-person narrative skillfully carries the authenticity of a teenage boy, his fractured memory and reintegration into a family who expects much from him, despite his scarring childhood. Her exploration of an abductee psyche is both illuminating and unsettling and is realistically portrayed... With a disturbing and raw ending, "Dead to You "is unforgettable." --Adam Silvera, Books of Wonder
"--Kirkus Reviews"

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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