Dead to You

Dead to You - Lisa McMann

At the age of sixteen, Ethan is reunited with his family after getting kidnapped nine years ago. But returning is a lot more difficult than either he or his family expected. Unable to remember his life before the kidnapping, Ethan tries to fit back in, but is faced with a little brother (Blake) who hates him and a younger sister (Gracie) born after he disappeared. If just a single memory would return, Ethan is sure it would help him fit back in. But something's preventing him from remembering.


This was a frustrating book to read. Not because it wasn't interesting or because I didn't enjoy it, but because I wanted to yell at a majority of the characters at various times. I understand how hard it must be to have your son get kidnapped and the absolute joy you'd feel at finding him again and how you'd want to try to forget that awful period of time and get back to being a family, but you can't just throw your son back into everything and expect him to just be perfectly fine. Not that that stopped his family from trying. Almost immediately after getting him back, they talk about inviting a lot of people over to welcome him back. They also invite some reporters in to interview Ethan about his return, during which Ethan completely freaks out. And then have him go to school almost right away too, despite him not feeling ready for it. He's completely overwhelmed right from the start. Blake is having problems adjusting to his return and lashes about at Ethan, sure that this couldn't possibly be his brother since he doesn't remember him. Ethan suffers from another freak out when students at his school arrange a surprise welcome back to him. It takes a while before Ethan actually gets a therapy session. No one seems to understand that they're coming on way too strong and that he needs a lot of help adjusting to everything.


Now the big reveal of what was blocking his memories was something I called the moment

Blake was revealed to be doing a big family project on genetics for school. Once he mentioned it, I knew Ethan was going to be revealed to not be the real Ethan, even though it didn't happen until the very end. I liked the fact that the main character was convinced he was the real Ethan. Unreliable narrators are always fun. And knowing that the little brother was going to ultimately be proven right didn't make me hate how he was acting any less.

(show spoiler)


Despite my frustrations with his family, especially Blake, I did like watching the struggle all of them had at trying to fit Ethan back into their family. It was hard and messy, but they tried their best, despite some rather dumb moves. Except for Blake. He was an awful brat throughout everything. I could understand the anger and how hard everything was on him, but there was not a moment in the book where I didn't want to hit him.


There was a bit of a romance in the book, which was a bit ridiculous and just felt unnecessary. I was far more interested in watching Ethan adjust and deal with his struggles with his family. Whenever the romance popped up, I just wanted it to be over so we could get back to the interesting stuff. I did like the love interest. I just didn't care about the romance.


This is one of those books where the ending changes the story, painting things in a different, and depressing, light. I think it's one of those ending that either makes or breaks the book for the reader. The book does end rather abruptly, leaving you wondering what happens next, but I didn't mind the abrupt ending here because I felt it ended at just the right spot.