|See...the cover is so pretty!|
I originally picked up The Second Life of Ava Rivers, a novel by Faith Gardner, because I thought the cover was pretty. I know, I know... That whole "don't judge a book" thing. And me, a supposed professional in the world of literature too. But I still occasionally base my book selections entirely on attractive packaging. More than I should probably admit. You do it too, so don't judge.
The story is a missing-person mystery told from the point of view of Vera Rivers, a soon-to-be college student, whose twin sister Ava disappeared without a trace the Halloween they were six. Since then, Vera's once idyllic family life has been turned upside-down: Her father now refuses to leave the house, instead spending his days hiding out in the basement playing a Sims-like role-playing game and searching the Internet for any clues that may lead to the whereabouts of Ava. Her mom has filled her calendar to overflowing with volunteer activities, charity events, and anything that will help keep her mind off the tragedy that happened almost 12 years ago. And her brother, who was supposed to be watching the girls that night (but wasn't) has been drowning in drugs, alcohol, and guilt. As for Vera, she can't wait to get the heck out of Dodge. She is counting the days she can leave her small California town for college in Portland, Oregon, a place where, hopefully, no one will know her tragic back story. A place where she can start over.
Then the impossible happens. Just days before Vera is scheduled to leave, her parents receive a call that Ava was found. And everything seems to match. Not only does the young woman look eerily like the age-progressed computer photo of Ava, but she knows things only Ava would have known. And she was even wearing a mood ring--just like the one Ava had been wearing when she disappeared.
Inevitably, cracks begin to form in this picture perfect scenario. And something deep down in Vera begins to suspect this girl may not be telling the whole story. But that can't be right, because if this girl isn't Ava, who is she?
The Second Life of Ava Rivers was a bit predictable as far as mysteries go, but it kept me reading just the same. Short chapters kept the action going. And characters were so well-developed you felt you knew them intimately. And the feels! OMG, the feels! I did guess the twist long before it was revealed, but I enjoyed the story just the same and would recommend it. --AJB