Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy Penguin Books July 6th 2017
Its Christmas and Liv and Nora decide to pack up their families and spend it on board a cruise ship, its destination Central America.
The children, aged 6 -11 befriend two Argentinian children and soon the three families are planning an off ship excursion. Husbands depart to play golf and the wives and children along with local guide Pedro set off to the local zip wires. Disaster strikes when a tyre on the van blows and instead they end up on a deserted beach waiting for a taxi to take them back to the ship. As Liv drifts off to sleep, Nora disappears into the forest with Pedro allegedly searching for birds. What they don’t bargain for is a strong tide that carries the children downstream, who are unable to swim back and subsequently become lost in the dense forestry. As they try to find their way back they witness the burial of a murder victim and find themselves held captive.
What ensues is a race against time to find the children, a set of parents who begin to blame each other and a portrayal of a country wracked by corruption, drugs and murder.
Told from the perspective of the children and the parents I was all set for a fast paced thriller only to be left a little disappointed.
Yes, it was fast paced in parts, but I found some of the characters a little cold and unbelievable. I didn’t feel much empathy for their situation and the women in particular were a little irritating.
I much preferred the story told from the perspective of the children. They were certainly more believable, slightly naive and the character of Isabel a real highlight. Her story was well written and sensitively done.
I am not quite sure about the young girl Noemi, and her place in the novel. It wasn’t necessarily needed or added in anyway to the story. Maybe the author used Noemi to show the plight of children left at home with relatives, often in abject poverty whilst parents worked away or simply escaped.
A good read, interesting plot and setting but unfortunately a little disappointing.
About the author
Maile Meloy was born in Helena, Montana in 1972 and attended Harvard University. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
Maile Meloy has written two previous novels, Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter. She has also written two short story collections Half in Love and Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It. Maile also writes children’s books.