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Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

Somewhere Inside of Happy is the seventh novel by Anna McPartlin (I think).  And I've read and reviewed almost all of her novels on the blog.  While this novel was a page turner and an engrossing read, it was missing the spark that some of her others possess.  This one was more of a slow burn in part because we know from the blurb on the back of the book that the main character's son goes missing and that something 'dreadful' happens to him.  So we have that hanging over our heads even before the book starts.  And the first chapter/epilogue of the book reveals that the son is indeed dead (spoiler alert?).  The majority of the book takes place in the past as we flashback to the hours leading up the son's disappearance and then takes us through the days of his disappearance as we hurtle to the inevitably bleak conclusion.  I was really dreading finding out how the son dies, and while it is incredibly tragic, heart breaking, and sad, it was not as bad/terrible as I originally feared (but it was still bad).

Having extracted herself and her children from a horrifically abusive marriage several years previously, Maisie is just barely hanging on by her finger nails to support her two children, her dementia afflicted mother, and herself.  Maisie is both primary caregiver and breadwinner for her little family, and she works three jobs, manages her mother's ever deteriorating condition, and raises her children.  Then one New Year's day a second chance at love comes knocking while unbeknownst to her, Maisie's son, Jeremy, vanishes.  Jeremy's disappearance threatens to upset the delicate balance of the family, while simultaneously torpedoing Maisie's second chance at love and plunging them all into unspeakable tragedy the likes of which the family narrowly avoided right before Maisie finally left her husband.

Initially Valerie, Maisie's headstrong, attitude ridden, young daughter, deliberately hides information from the police and her mother, such as the fact that Jeremy never made it to school the day after New Year's and lying about his comings and goings the day of his disappearance.  All of which hampers Maisie firmly establishing the fact of his disappearance.  As the hours and days unspool following the disappearance of Jeremy and his friend, Rave, events and emotions spiral out of control and get far worse than anyone initially predicts.  Meanwhile, the police struggle to find clues that will lead to the boys' whereabouts and solve the mystery of where and why they disappeared.

Ultimately this story is framed as one of healing and personal growth.  There is a feeling of dread/foreboding throughout the book that starts from its first pages thanks to the early reveal of Jeremy's fate.  And sometimes that makes this book hard to read.  However, it is a good book--and if you've read McPartlin's other novels, you will definitely want to read this one.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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