I Will Find You Again
- Author: Sarah Lyu
- Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
- Publication Date: March 14, 2023
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Thank you to YA Books Central and Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can find my YA Books Central Review here.
CONTENT WARNING: substance misuse, death, suicide, grief, mention of internment camps and associated trauma, panic attack
Welcome to Meadowlark: expensive homes and good schools, ambition and loneliness. Meet Chase Ohara and Lia Vestiano: the driven overachiever and the impulsive wanderer, the future CEO and the free spirit. Best friends for years—weekend trips to Montauk, sleepovers on a yacht—and then, first love. True love.
Then Lia disappears, and Chase’s life turns into a series of grim snapshots. Anger. Grief. Running. Pink pills in an Altoids tin. A cheating ring at school. Heartbreak and lies. A catastrophic secret.
And the shocking truth that will change everything about the way Chase sees Lia—and herself.
This story sounded intriguing from the start, and it’s one of those books that I just wanted to love even before I started reading it. It had some elements that just called to me—the setting on Long Island, the queer romance, the minorities who doesn’t conform to the stereotype of classic overachiever, and a heavy emotional component to the story.
The entire story is told through Chase’s perspective, and it took me a minute to realize that Chase was a girl, since I’ve only seen it as a boy’s name. Both Chase and Lia are Asian-American, and their identities are discussed in the story. In Lia’s case, she’s adopted and the way her heritage is honored is brought up, but it becomes an issue for her. For Chase, her heritage comes with some intergenerational trauma, and that’s brought up. We get to see how that plays out for her, but I don’t know that she fully makes that connection during the story.
However, neither of the girls quite fall into the “model minority” stereotype associated with Asian-Americans. While Lia completely bucks the expectations and prefers to be a free spirit, focusing on her in-the-moment experiences rather than her education, Chase is a driven overachiever, focusing on the expectations handed down to her by her father. She doesn’t have great insight in the story, and she’s a textbook unreliable narrator. Chase isn’t exactly the most likable character, putting her own goals before everything and everyone else, even when she’s trying to help others, but I can also empathize with her. The pressure of senior year on teenagers like Chase is immense—she’s in Advanced Placement classes, is the captain of her cross-country team, and engages in a bunch of other extracurricular activities. There’s no possible way to keep up with the workload, and she starts to dabble in taking Adderall. Before long, she’s taking a stronger medication, and staying up later and later, until she barely sleeps.
As a character who isn’t sleeping, is taking stimulants, and isn’t dealing with her emotions at all, Chase’s life starts to fall apart when Lia disappears. They weren’t just dating, but they were best friends for most of their lives. She can’t keep juggling everything, and inevitably things start to collapse, as she starts to fixate on finding out what happened to Lia.
I got caught up in the mystery of it all, and couldn’t put the story down. We find out the outcome quickly, but it’s all the steps in between that are the real mystery. And as Chase slowly starts to discover what really went on, it was fascinating to see everything unfold. It’s a delicate process, and Lyu really takes care with the sensitive topics she writes about. She discusses grief, divorce, absent parents, difficult relationships within families, the pressures teens face in school and how realistic they are, mental health, and substance use. It’s a fantastic, twisty story, and done beautifully.
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