The Long Way Back

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I was late to the Nicole Baart party. When I read my first of her books, I was gobsmacked. “How have I never come across her before?” I asked.

Well, she’s now on my must-read list, and her newest book, The Long Way Back, is coming out in just a few short weeks.

When you pick up a book written by Nicole Baart, you know you’re going to get an intimate, deeply personal story about strong, empathetic women. Women who feel a lot like you and the women you know, whose anxieties and concerns mirror your own.

You also know she’s going to shine a light on serious, meaty questions that echo the real world. But she’s going to do it in a way that centers the dignity and complexity of humanity. You know you’re going to reach the end with a full heart and a stronger appreciation for the beauty of life in this precious world.

Nicole Baart just keeps getting better and better. With “The Long Way Back,” she digs deeper than ever before, tackling social media fame, the disappearance of a teenage child, and darker forces ripped from the headlines.

In part 1, we meet Charlie, a single mother trying to do everything right, who’s suddenly been faced with every parent’s worst nightmare: a missing child, authorities who believe her responsible, and the conviction that they are right, even if not in the way they suspect.

Part 2 belongs to Eva, as we learn what actually happened to her. As she grapples with her first confrontation with evil, the humanity of the people caught within its snare makes everything messier than black and white.

Part 3, we are along for the ride as the two women’s stories converge in a climax that is easy to envision seeing on the news.

This is compulsive reading that unfolds not just through narrative, but through old Instagram posts (plus the story behind them), online articles, and college essays. It’s brilliant, structurally. The back-and-forth illuminates relationships, reveals unexpected plot points, and ties the book together in a way that reflects the nuance and complexity of the real world. You will have trouble putting this down. You may find yourself wishing the real-world versions of the forces at play in these pages could be dealt with as neatly. But you will be glad you went on this journey with Charlie and Eva.

I was lucky enough to get an advance peek at this book via Netgalley, but I’ll be buying it for keeps, and quite possibly gifting it, too.