The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner
Overview: The Rivers family has been lost for twelve years. Vera has been missing a twin. Her parents lost a daughter. Then, one day, there's a breakthrough. Ava is at a hospital an hour away, and their lives have been forever changed. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 The characters in the book are all interesting and quite complex. I really liked Vera and her very honest inner conflicts about her family's situation. She loses a lot of her life when Ava suddenly comes back into the picture. She's been in Ava's shadow her entire life, and no one knows what to do when Ava comes back.
Her parents and brother are also strongly featured as they fall apart and cope in their own ways. It makes it clear just how impactful events like these are on people who are not directly seen as the "victims".
Plot: 4 This isn't a fast paced story. There are some wow reveals, but, overall, it is much more about the fallout to each twist that happens before and during the book. The twist at the end, I definitely didn't see coming, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. In the end, though, I liked how Vera and Ava related to each other.
Writing: 4 The short chapters definitely helped keep this very internal book alive. She points to many interesting facets behind being part of a major news tragedy. I love the writing style and the internal focus. While an authors note with some insights into the research and maybe a help page would have been nice, I did appreciate that a sensitivity reader was noted in the acknowledgment. I think that's super important for a book dealing with trauma like this.
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