BETWEEN THE LINES One Scary Road Trip
A psychological thriller through a young daughter’s eyes
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.