Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Dead to You is the first person present tense point of view of Ethan De Wilde who is meeting his family, father, mother, brother Blake and sister Gracie, after 9 years. Abducted at age 7, he is being restored to his family at age 16.
From the very beginning, Blake looks upon Ethan with suspicion when the latter, it seems, has no memories of his first seven years at home. Ethan cannot seem to remember anything of note. All his memories of the first seven years are linked with the family website created after he was abducted.
Ethan’s innermost thoughts are hidden from us, and we know as little about his life with Ellen as do his parents and siblings. The only thing we can guess is that it must have been traumatic enough for him to break out in a paroxysm of hysteria and panic.
Cami, Ethan’s childhood friend, is the only one who seeks to understand him. She helps him fill in the gaps of what he has missed since he was taken as well as some of the memories that she shared with him. Gradually, Cami and Ethan get into a relationship.
Ethan calls Gracie the replacement child, somebody who has usurped his place in the family. Somebody who was born to replace him.
Meanwhile, Blake feels himself lost in all the fuss being made over the Lost Boy and the Replacement Child. He resents Ethan for the trouble and the heartache he has caused the family, especially given the fact that at age 7, Ethan willingly walked to the car and got into it, when she should have known better not to talk to strangers.
Strangely Ethan is conflicted in his relationship with his birth mother, remembering nothing and feeling a strange connection with Ellen, the woman who took him away and later abandoned him at a group home. When he speaks of her, though, he refers to her as Eleanor, unwilling to speak her true name, and lead the police to her.
The characters of the parents and Blake and Gracie are thoroughly believable. The only person who seems at odds is Ethan himself.
The short chapters drive us forward faster.
I was disappointed in the ending. Not only was it something I expected, even while I hoped the author would come up with something smarter, but there was no particular building of atmosphere on our way to that conclusion.