The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author: Rebecca Podos
Publication Date: January 26th, 2016
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Synopsis: All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.
When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of her father’s books to track down a woman she’s never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.
Rebecca Podos’ debut novel, The Mystery of Hollow Places, is an intriguing mystery about a girl who sets off to find both her parents – the mother who abandoned her, and the father who seems to have abandoned himself.
Imogene’s life has never been all that easy. Her mother, suffering from depression, left her and her father when she was still very small. She had tried to be a good mother, but felt like she couldn’t, so she did the only thing she could – she left. Imogene’s father, a best selling mystery writer, had a difficult time dealing with her leaving. While he did remarry the family therapist, Lindy, he never really seemed to be all together happy again. While Imogene has a best friend, Jessa, she doesn’t really have any others, but she is sort of friends (with a longtime crush) on Jessa’s brother, Chad.
When Imogene’s father disappears, leaving no clues as to where he had gone, Imogene and Lindy are completely heartbroken, but they have no idea where he might have gone. Imogene relies on the old bedtime story that her father used to tell her, along with some of the clues in her father’s books, to try and piece together clues and find him. From having Jessa help her to break into the records room in the hospital where she was born, to driving across states to look for clues, Imogene uncovers little pieces of her past while she looks for the father she loves. However, she also begins to uncover some things about her mother, and tires to figure out if her father might have tried to find her, Imogene works her way through some family secrets and makes new discoveries about her parents, her past, and what lengths she will go through to find her family.
I enjoyed the whole mystery aspect of this book. Imogene’s character was interesting, and I admired her dedication to finding her dad, and uncovering secrets about her mother. While I hated the fact that Imogene’s mother just upped and left, I really disliked her more toward the end of the book. Imogene was really likable though, because she cared so much about her parents and just wanted her family. Imogene’s stepmother Lindy did what she could to try and bond with Imogene, but it didn’t always work, because Imogene just didn’t really want to let her in.
Imogene felt like she had to tackle the mystery of her missing father on her own, and it was interesting how she used some of the stuff from his books to put things together. The story was enjoyable, and it was definitely a promising first novel from author Rebecca Podos!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Rebecca Podos’ debut YA novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, is forthcoming from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) on 1/26/16. A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College where she won the M.F.A. Award for Best Thesis, her fiction has been published in Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Paper Darts, Bellows American Review, and Smokelong Quarterly. Past Awards include the Helman Award for Short Fiction, the David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Prize for Young Adult Writers, and the Hillerman-McGarrity Scholarship for Creative Writing. She works as a YA and MG agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston.