Buy This Book: Jane Bradley's dark and compelling heartbreaker "You Believers"
Of all the books burning up my TBR pile the last few months, Jane Bradley's You Believers is the one I was dreading most -- for the same reason I dreaded but felt compelled to read Masha Hamilton's 31 Hours. Being the parent of young adults in this world is just flat terrifying. Books about the worst that can happen are not my fave, but when a book is just too beautifully written to resist, well, you know it's going to leave a scar, but you read it anyway.
Oddly enough, this author came to my attention in the context of a text book, Screenwriting 101: Starting Small While Thinking Big (which is terrific but quite expensive, if you're into that), and a bit of the ol' google took me to her short story collection, Are We Lucky Yet?. (Bradley's earlier short story collection, Power Lines and Other Stories was cited as a NYT notable book.) She's an amazing writer, and in her capable hands, a story that could have gone very Nancy Grace ends up being about humanity rather than inhumanity.
Per the PR:
A young woman goes missing, and her mother uproots her life to find her daughter. But it is not just the heartbreak or the deep mystery of the hunt for lost loved ones that Bradley so convincingly explores. Rather, with the help of an amazingly dedicated searcher, family and friends somehow learn to move past unspeakable horror and celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit. ...Part Southern gothic, part crime, part haunting suspense story, You Believers takes us on an infinitely harrowing journey that rewards the reader with insight into how we might endure horrible events with faith, strength, and grace even while it reveals the ripple effects of random violence.
Based on a real crime to which Bradley has a personal tangent, You Believers is a mystery in which there's a murder. We know what happened and who did it early on. The suspense is in agonizing through the experience from various POV's, wondering how anyone can survive, recover, go on, or draw any kind of breath after life takes such a heart-sickening twist.
Quoth Jodi Picoult, the diva of all such stories:
"You Believers examines the anatomy of a horrific crime from every angle. ... Several perfectly pitched Southern narratives weave together to form a strong song of love, loss, and human resilience. A gripping, intense read."
Yeah. What she said.