On the night of Alex Carmody’s sixteenth birthday, she and her best friend, Cass, are victims of a terrible car accident. Alex survives; Cass doesn’t. Consumed by grief, Alex starts cutting school and partying, growing increasingly detached. The future she’d planned with her friend is now meaningless to her.
Meg Carmody is heartbroken for her daughter, even as she’s desperate to get Alex’s life back on track. The Birches, a boarding school in New Hampshire, promises to do just that, yet Alex refuses to go. But when Meg finds a bag of pills hidden in the house, she makes a fateful call to a transporter whose company specializes in shuttling troubled teens to places like The Birches, under strict supervision. Meg knows Alex will feel betrayed—as will her estranged husband, who knows nothing of Meg’s plans for their daughter.
When the transport goes wrong—and Alex goes missing—Meg must face the consequences of her decision and her deception. But the hunt for Alex reveals that Meg is not the only one keeping secrets.
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; Reprint edition (May 1, 2016)
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; Reprint edition (May 1, 2016)
When I signed up for the tour for Deliver Her, I had it in my head for some reason that it was a mystery/thriller and it definitely is not. It's more of a family drama, the tension comes from the relationships and the secrets the characters are hiding from each other. At first I was disappointed (I do love my mystery/thrillers), but I found myself absorbed by the story and the characters and that made the book's 340-ish pages fly by quickly.
I am not a parent, but I have friends and family that have struggled trying to get through to a child, trying to protect them and sometimes making decisions for how they choose to deal with a situation--decisions that they later regret. Meg Carmody is a caring person and mother, but definitely burning out with her job as a cancer nurse, an inability to escape her failed marriage as her husband is living in the basement, and especially in knowing what to do for and about her daughter Alex, who has been spiraling out of control after her best friend's death on the night of Alex's sixteenth birthday. Meg finally gets pushed over the edge by Alex's actions when she finds a bag of pills after Alex has a party and trashed the house, and she makes the fateful decision to send Alex to a boarding school for troubled teens she has been researching. She hides the decision from her husband--who refused to discuss it and arranges for Begin Again, a transport service, to take Alex there. It is a decision she quickly comes to regret when there is an accident and Alex goes missing.
The story is told in past and present by Meg, Alex, and Carl Alden, the owner of Begin Again--each sharing their perspectives, observations and the bits and pieces that led up to where they are now. Although none of these characters are perfect, they are relatable and I found myself drawn to each of them in a different way. For me the characters were the strongest part of the book as I found that the secrets promised were pretty easy to figure out and I didn't find any big surprises in the twists. If you don't set your heart on a mystery and understand that Deliver Her is a book about family and domestic relationships and the choices we make, it is a solid and enjoyable read.
Author Notes: Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband.
You can connect with Patricia Perry Donovan on her website, Facebook and Twitter
Food Inspiration: Although not full of food mentions, there were some to be found in Deliver Her such as clam chowder and a burger at a diner, hotdogs and fries at a bowling alley, a cup of hot chocolate, chocolate fountain with berries and cookies at Alex's sweet sixteen party, a workplace chicken salad, a bagel from the travel center kiosk, and a container of chili thawing on the counter.
For my book-inspired dish, I decided to go with a homemade version of a chocolate-cherry energy bar--supposedly Alex's favorite--and part of a basket of snacks that Meg prepared for her transport trip to The Birches.
I do buy energy bars for convenience, trying to get the simplest ingredients without a lot of preservatives or added sugars, but I prefer to make them when I can. It allows me to make them to my taste, control what goes into them, and they just taste fresher and better than most store-bought versions. I switch up the ingredients, depending on my mood or what I have on hand but I usually always include nut butter, nuts and seeds, and dried fruit. Often I add a few mini dark chocolate chips for a little fun and since the energy bars in the book were described as chocolate-cherry, I upped the chocolate presence with dark cocoa powder and some vegan chocolate protein powder.
Chocolate-Cherry Energy Bars
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 12-16 Bars--depending on how you cut them)
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds or chopped nuts of choice
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup nut butter of choice (I used crunchy natural peanut butter) + more if needed
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup or combination + more if needed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp protein powder of choice (I used chocolate), optional
1/4 cup good dark cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
Lightly grease a square (8"x8") or small rectangular (9"x7") baking pan and line with parchment paper, making sure the edges hang over the sides of the pan.
In a large bowl, add oats, flax seeds, wheat germ, chia seeds, sliced almonds, dried cherries and mini chips and stir to mix well.
In a microwave safe bowl, add nut butter, honey or maple syrup. Place in the microwave and heat about 30 seconds, or until nut butter is softened but not hot. Add vanilla, protein powder, cocoa powder and sea salt and stir until combined and smooth.
Pour the nut butter mixture into the oat mixture and stir, gently but thoroughly, until well-combined. Add additional honey, maple syrup or nut butter if need if the mixture is too dry. (You want it crumbly but moist enough to stick together.)
Slightly moisten hands and dump mixture into the prepared pan. Press the mixture with your hands, firmly and evenly into the pan. Cover the pan and place in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight until completely firm.
Once firm, carefully lift the block out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut into bars. (I used a rectangular pan and cut mine into 12 pieces.) If desired, wrap bars individually in waxed paper. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Note: Bars will not melt, but they will soften at room temp and they remain more firm and solid if stored in the fridge.
Notes/Results: I like the way these bars turned out, soft and chewy with a bit of crunchy texture from the seeds and sliced almonds and with good chocolate flavor. They are sweet, but not too sweet and the chunks of cherry go well with the chocolate and peanut butter. You can switch up the seeds, dried fruit and nuts that you use, based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Because the chocolate comes from cocoa powder and mini chips, they are not as melty as chocolate-topped bars (like these I made last month), and can spend a few hours or so, (wrapped and treated somewhat gently!) in a purse, backpack, or lunchbox with no issues or mess--but remember that a trade off for no preservatives, is a bit more fragility--so for longer term and optimum firmness, it's best to store them in the refrigerator.
I'm linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
Note: A review copy of "Deliver Her" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.