Usually I try to stay away from heart-wrenching tales that will pull on the precarious thread of my emotions, but every once in a while I go into a situation knowing full well its ramifications and still do it. That’s how it was for me with Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline. She has morphed from being all about the legal drama to writing stories that have heartstrings attached to them. Save Me was probably as intense as any book I read from that perspective, and this one follows suit.
The premise is a simple one to grasp, but one that still made me gasp. Ellen Gleeson adopted a boy, and he is the light of her life. But then she sees a missing children’s flyer in her mail with a picture of a boy on it who looks remarkably similar to her son. The emotion in the book lies in the incredibly difficult decision she is then forced to make, because if the boys are indeed one and the same, if she pulls at that thread it could all come unraveled and she could lose her son. But is he really hers anyway? Could she possibly just ignore it and make it go away?
I love how Scottoline forces her heroine to honestly think about what the right thing is to do, that she doesn’t automatically just say the truth needs to be out there. She loves her son so much that she doesn’t want to lose him, and it’s a powerful pull that weighs on her. But it is a weight, and it does prove too heavy for her to measure alone. Ellen is nothing if not intent on finding the truth. It’s how she is hard-wired, so she goes on the search, knowing the dire consequences that could happen if she gets the answers she seeks. And as readers, we go on the search as well.
At times I was convinced of both scenarios, that the boys were the same, and that the boys were different. I thought that I knew which decisions would be made, but I was wrong. I thought I knew the inner workings of the people involved, but again I was mistaken. It’s curious to me that in this day and age something like this could and does realistically happen, and Scottoline does a great job of weaving a tale that gives and takes at the same time.
In the end we are left with this very raw emotional connection to the characters and a very intense understanding of their motivations and decisions, even if we don’t necessarily agree with all of them. And as has become all too familiar in Scottoline’s books of late, the answers only give us more questions. But that’s a good thing here because it forces us, just as it did to Ellen, to dig deep into our own psyches and motivations. Would we follow the same path. Why? Why not? The answers might just scare us, but they make us think like not too many books these days do.
I would recommend this book to anyone willing to challenge themselves and delve into their own fears. It is not for the faint of heart, but it’s well worth the time you will take reading it. And the ending might just surprise you.
I give the novel FIVE stars.