Title: The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author : Rebecca Podos
Genre : Young Adult, Suspense
Publication Date : January 26th, 2016
Publisher : Balzer & Bray
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All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.
When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of her father’s books to track down a woman she’s never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.
There are quite literally, a BUTT LOAD of things I loved about this book. You a Mystery fan? Duuuude, do you need this book in your life. Like to see teenagers in sticky situations? Bruh, I found what you want to read. Drama? Coming of Age? Either? Both? Look no further. This book has it all and more.
The Mystery of Hollow Places begins with distraught teen Imogene Scott searching for her missing father, medical mystery writer Joshua Zhi Scott. Joshua, as Imogene describes, is a recluse, and the fact that he left her alone with her step mother, with no explanations, strikes not only as odd, but also super irresponsible. All chances of foul play are quickly ruled out by the local authorities, and when Imogene realises that he has left her a clue, she takes it on herself to solve the mystery of her missing father.
But I’d like to talk mostly about a particular person in this book—and that person is Imogene Scott. Except, to me, Imogene Scott was the most relatable of characters I’ve probably read all year. Imogene Scott was me, and I mean that in the best way possible. The way she talked about things, the way she did things. It was all me. And since I was pretty into the story itself, the fact that I was a 100% invested in the main character too was pure fucking gold.
The book was completely unexpected, what with me only expecting mystery and a bit of a thrill, and this turning out to quite literally be a journey for Imogene. She turned from this almost-always pessimistic person, to this almost-mature person within a week or so, and unbelievable as it may sound, you can only experience it once you’ve started on this journey with Imogene. She’s both smart and driven, but she’s also “emotionally compromised,” owing to the fact that her AWOL birth mother might be the key to the her father’s missing status. The book also explores the kind of sort of rocky feelings Imogene has towards her step-mother, and that was a good change from seeing the all-black/all-white relationships I’m used to seeing between teenagers and their step-parents. One of my favourite, one of the most cringe-worthy parts of the book was where Imogene and her step-mother have this huge showdown, and it really put a lot of things about Imogene in perspective for me.
The Mystery of Hollow Places is not meant to be a slow read. At least, it wasn’t for me, although my problem was chiefly dreading the end of Imogene’s company. Her voice couldn’t have been more authentic, and I found myself completely immersed in her musings and her thoughts and her complains with the world. I read the book over a span of almost four days and even then, I didn’t want to let the book go! It’s written in a way that makes you feel like you’re a part of the story, you’re right there with Imogene in her search for her father, and you’re all stressed out because what if we can’t find Imogene’s father then what do we do?
Miss Podos has put together this story in such a beautiful way, making this a YA debut that you most definitely need very high up on your TBR. If you’re a lover of Mysteries and Thrills, and in need of a teenage girl who is far too smarter than most adults, then The Mystery of Hollow Places might just be up your alley!
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Rebecca Podos’ debut YA novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, is forthcoming from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) on 1/26/16. A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College where she won the M.F.A. Award for Best Thesis, her fiction has been published in Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Paper Darts, Bellows American Review, and Smokelong Quarterly. Past Awards include the Helman Award for Short Fiction, the David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Prize for Young Adult Writers, and the Hillerman-McGarrity Scholarship for Creative Writing. She works as a YA and MG agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston.