BE­TWEEN THE LINES One Scary Road Trip

A psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller through a young daugh­ter’s eyes

RSWLiving - - Contents - All the Lost Things

OK, it’s late sum­mer in South­west Florida, and it’s hot. You need a tall, icy drink and a story that’s ab­sorb­ing, yet not too in­tense, to take your mind off the out­door ther­mome­ter. All the Lost Things by Michelle Sacks takes you away from the heat and hu­mid­ity out­side and im­me­di­ately into the cool, dry mind of 7-year-old Dolly Rust. She has the con­ta­gious en­thu­si­asm of a child, mixed with the pre­co­cious wis­dom of a daugh­ter who has al­ready seen way too much in her young life. Dolly is whisked away from her New York home one Satur­day morn­ing by her father, who tells her they are go­ing on a sur­prise ad­ven­ture—just the two of them. Dolly says she is “THRILLED IN PIECES” as her father straps her into the back seat and they drive away. Along for the ride is Clemesta, Dolly’s toy horse, who is also her al­ter ego, and as the trip goes on, be­comes the voice of re­al­ity. They drive far­ther and far­ther away from home on ru­ral back roads into the Deep South. Un­set­tling de­tails emerge about Dolly’s parents, who once had a good life in Florida that all came tum­bling down, the

“an­gry bear” that some­times in­hab­its her father, her mother’s se­cret trips to see a friend and for­mu­late plans to move away. Mean­while, Dolly’s dad is be­hav­ing more and more er­rat­i­cally, some­times dan­ger­ously so. “I wish we never went on this stupid ad­ven­ture,” Dolly fi­nally says five days in. The tech­nique of re­veal­ing a sin­is­ter world through a child’s eyes has worked suc­cess­fully be­fore—no­tably Emma Donoghue’s 2010 best­seller Room— and it works well here, too. Sacks, whose fic­tion has been short­listed for two South African PEN Lit­er­ary awards, adeptly keeps the reader tuned in to Dolly’s thoughts, guess­ing but dread­ing what has really hap­pened to in­sti­gate this long road trip. The an­swer builds through­out the book like a sum­mer thun­der­head. So set­tle into your fa­vorite air-con­di­tioned spot and let gen­er­ate its own brand of heat.

Along for the ride is Clemesta, Dolly’s toy horse, who is also her al­ter ego, and as the trip goes on, be­comes the voice of re­al­ity.

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