Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review of Finding Sara (by Nancy Demarco)

The mind can create and learn, but it can also protect and hide. It can also break when too much is asked of it. Sara Morgan knows the limitations of her own mind. What she doesn’t know is why she hears voices, or why there are parts of her life that seem to be hidden behind barriers. All she can do is muddle through life the best she can.

Sara finds solace in being around horses. Her goals to ride at Rolex keep her focused, keep her thoughts off of her many problems. So much of Sara’s life is longer in her control after running down her ex-husband (something she doesn’t remember doing) and finding herself once again under the guardianship of her father. Part of her knows that her past stays in mental hospitals, the voices she hears, and her sometimes erratic behavior are good reasons for being treated the way she is, but another part of her longs for freedom. Especially after meeting Paul, a nerdy but sweet man who is willing to stick by Sara despite her past. Getting control of her life back proves more difficult, and more dangerous than Sara expected.

Behind the voices and horses and yogurt cups is the mystery of what happened to Sara. Hazy dreams give clues, but they aren’t enough. Sara’s behavior hints at what might have happened as well, but again, the reader is held back from piecing it all together too soon. Nancy DeMarco does a great job of giving you enough hints and clues to keep the mystery alive through the entire book, but has enough twists and turns and surprises to keep you guessing. What I really enjoyed about this mystery was when Nancy would switch point of views and outright reveal a secret to the reader, but the main character, Sara, still had no clue about what the reader knows. There were plenty of times of just wanted to reach inside the book and grab Sara and tell her to take another path or explain things to her. It was a great tactic for really making you anxious about Sara.

Sara herself was a wonderful character, very complex and realistic. I was pulled into Sara’s struggles right from the start. There are elements of Sara that I think every reader can connect with, like her relationship problems and warped self-image. Even the aspects of Sara that many readers may not be familiar with, like mental illness, are presented in a way that lets the reader understand Sara and feel for her. Who hasn’t felt trapped before? Who hasn’t been unsure? Maybe not to the point of arguing with the voices Sara hears, but everyone has had moments they feel like a dozen different people are all screaming at them and making demands that you can’t fulfill. Even for those unfamiliar with mental illness and the difficulties that come along with that, Nancy does a great job of making Sara’s problems into something readers can connect with.

Personally, one of my favorite parts of the book was Paul. Paul meets Sara, knowing nothing about her past, and is immediately drawn to her. When he does learn about her past, he’s willing to stick by her and try to help her. Some may think that is an unrealistic response for most, but Nancy finds a way to make Paul’s willingness to stick around make sense. She does it in the sweetest and funniest way possible. Paul is nerdy and quirky and a little bit odd, so he understands what it means to have others judge you and push you away because you aren’t the perfect package they wanted. He collects yogurt cups. He stores clothes that no longer fit in carefully marked stacks. He wears lime green sweat suits to meet Sara’s parents and help clean out a garage. He’s adorable and funny, and just about the sweetest guy you’ll meet. But that hardly means his relationship with Sara is perfect. I loved watching their relationship grow and falter and try to survive.

Just like with the mystery and mental illness, Nancy weaves the relationship into the story beautifully. Most couples will never have to face the problems Sara and Paul do, but Nancy has a way of making their issues easily relatable. I enjoyed the romantic side of the book just as much as the mystery and Sara’s personal issues. Overall, Finding Sara, was a wonderful book. It was well written, had a great mystery, an adorable yet deep romance, and unforgettable characters.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was a very well rounded book that pulled you in and kept you interested in every aspect of the story.

Who would I recommend this book to? Mystery readers, dramatic readers, humorous romance readers, really there aren’t a lot of reader groups I could think of that would not like this book. Whether you start reading for the mystery, romance, or mental illness aspect, you’ll enjoy Finding Sara

Get your copy of Finding Sara today on  Amazon