REVIEW: BRING ME BACK, BY B. A. PARIS

 

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

My Thoughts: A story told by alternating narrators that swings between “then” and “now,” Bring Me Back was a fascinating look at love, loss, and starting over. Except that when Finn starts over after Layla’s disappearance years before, he picks someone a little too close to home: Ellen, Layla’s sister, whom he had never met when he was with Layla. A part of him always wondered about what had happened to Layla, but Ellen has a way of showing a different kind of love. A nurturing kind that offers him care and comfort when Layla had been the needy one.

Just before Ellen and Finn start planning their wedding, a series of strange events begin happening: objects from the past that were significant to Layla and also to Ellen start showing up. Finn tries to protect Ellen and keeps some of these things secret and hidden. But the e-mails make him suspect everyone from his past, especially some who are part of his present life. When Ellen claims to have seen Layla in a nearby village, Finn goes on high alert. A neighbor’s claim to have also seen Layla adds some credence to the possibility that Layla is out there and coming back.

Why are the strange e-mails and sentimental objects appearing now? Who is behind these mysterious messages and sightings, and why does Finn feel a great sense of dread and imminent danger?

Intensity ratchets up as Finn becomes desperate for answers, and Ellen becomes more aloof…until she also disappears.

I had several theories about what was going on, from some kind of psychological disorder to an actual reappearance of Layla. But what actually happened stunned me and kept me off guard as I read. I couldn’t stop turning pages to see what would eventually unfold. A 5 star read.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.
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