Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Book Cover Image: You Believers by Jane BradleyTitle: You Believers

Author: Jane Bradley

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“Part southern gothic, part crime, part haunting suspense story, You Believers takes the reader on an infinitely harrowing journey that finally offers insight into how we can endure horrible events with faith, strength, and grace while it reveals the ripple effects of random violence, how the worst things can be faced so that we might not only survive, but grow.

A young woman goes missing, and her mother uproots her life to find her daughter. A professional searcher with uncanny empathetic skill works to find the missing and to comfort desperate loved ones left behind. A tortured young man hell-bent on destruction leaves a trail of pain, sorrow, and even hope, as he moves through the lives of friends, loved ones, and strangers. You Believers explores the ripple effects of a random crime. It takes you on a journey through hell and back, a journey that offers insight on how we can endure horrible events with faith, strength, and grace. Amidst the darkness there are flickers of hope as characters move from unspeakable horrors, and in the end celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit. Bradley portrays this world with a vision that is at once ruthless and utterly compassionate. Under her hand, it is not just the mystery of the hunt or the heartbreaking search for a woman that keeps us locked within the layers of story; rather, it is the deeper mystery explored here, the search for logic, meaning, and redemption, in the domino force that is human nature.”

Thoughts: You Believers is one of those novels that is seemingly simple until one goes to describe the plot to someone else. Only then does one realize just how layered and complex the story really is. In this case, what could be construed as a simple missing-persons thriller becomes a study of evil and loss, the need to help and the power of love. It is a psychological drama, a thriller, a murder mystery and family narrative all in one.

Told from different characters’ points of view, the power of the novel lies in each character’s unique perspective of the crimes at hand. Together, the reader gets a very real and very emotional image of just how pervasive the damage is for one missing person on that person’s community, family and friends. The reader rushes from the heartbroken mother to the callously oblivious murderer, from the clueless accomplice to the emotionally raw volunteer and the roller coaster of emotions that ensue with each character.

You Believers is brutal in its honesty. The reader is under no false assumptions that there will be a fairy tale-like ending to this novel. However, along with the despair, Ms. Bradley weaves a very real sense of hope – hope that the perpetrator will be caught, that the family will find justice and peace, that maybe, just maybe, this will be one story that turns out well for everyone. It is as if Ms. Bradley is reminding the reader that in spite of all the heartache and tears, the sense of desolation and bleakness, one should never lose hope because when one does, the bad guys win. What an incredibly powerful message.

You Believers is another great offer from Unbridled Books. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite publishers because everything they offer is refreshingly different, thought-provoking and simply excellent. Ms. Bradley has created a novel that explores the dichotomy of human nature while ensuring that the good can overcome in the end. This duality expresses itself in every aspect of the novel, building one complex layer upon another to create a novel that is every bit as messy and emotional as real life. With this her first full-length novel, Ms. Bradley has proven that she has the ability to create an amazing story.

Thank you to NetGalley and Unbridled Books for my e-galley!

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