Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. People consider themselves lucky to live in the quaint, serene beachside town, and native Clare Knight, now a city girl, feels doubly lucky to be moving back there a week before the July festivities kick off.
But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year’s Fourth of July festival won’t see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects. The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing’s wrong.
And they’re not the only ones hiding something.
Clare has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people’s pasts when she touches their clothes. And since she’s a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, her visions are frequent—and usually unwanted. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year’s Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.
This was a really interesting novel that had a great premise, though the beginning was a bit too slow for my tastes. Once the novel picked up, though, and Clare found the jacket belonging to the missing teen, Amanda, the novel held my attention quite well. I will say that a lot of the intro chapters were a bit boring for me; I found Clare’s friends to be quite stale and I certainly wasn’t as interested in learning about them and their selfishness as I was about the mystery surrounding Amanda’s disappearance. In my opinion, it took a bit too long for the novel to get moving in the direction the synopsis states it will go… it was nearly 60 pages before any mention of the jacket took place, (if my math is correct—I read on my Kindle and it was about 22% into the novel), and even then it wasn’t right away that Clare took stock in what she had or decided to do anything about it. But it was a start and my interest piqued double time as soon as Clare began using her ability to help track the truth about Amanda.
While I will say that I didn’t connect with most of the characters to any extent, I really did like Clare, though I felt her relationship with her friends, and especially Jack, were a bit pushed. She goes from liking them to disliking them, to being scared and then in love, and it happens a bit too quickly for it to have validity. But, it certainly didn’t ruin my reading of the novel. With the revelations of Amanda’s jacket, the story keeps itself afloat and holds the readers interest with the many twists and turns. And, in all honesty, I didn’t see the truth coming, which is always a plus in my book, because I like being completely jarred by the revelations. Thus, overall I liked the novel and wouldn’t mind reading more by this author. Three and a half stars.
Random House Children’s Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel prior to its release on September 11, 2012