“Lost You” by Haden Beck is a story that has been played out many times in one form or another, in one place or another. People have read some variation of it and have opinions about it. I will not disclose key plot details, but this variation is unexpected, surprising, and tragic.
The story opens in the “now,” in the present tense, with a sense of urgency.
“She climbs up onto the low wall that borders the roof, even as the police officers yell at her to stop. The brickwork scrapes her knees, but she doesn’t care… Seven stories. The people below back away as they stare up at her.”
The scene shifts back slightly in time. Libby, a writer, is on a vacation in Florida with her son, Ethan. She has been a single mom since Mason left when Ethan was six months old. This vacation is a well-earned reward after she got what was described as a “very nice book deal” for her psychological thriller. The first few days of the vacation are the best she can remember with the usual stuff — swimming, meeting new people, having dinner, and wrangling a three-year old. Then, in the hotel hallway, Libby turns to speak to a new friend for just a second, and when she looks back, Ethan is inside the open elevator, laughing as he hits one button after another. The doors hiss closed, and Ethan is gone. The frantic search begins.
When the scene shifts back four years, readers get to know Libby better, much, much better. Libby’s past is interspersed with the events in the present, and this enhances the worrisome, even anxious atmosphere. Libby’s childhood abuse is acknowledged; her marriage to Mason is detailed, and her struggle to conceive is documented.
Officials conducting the search for Ethan suspect that something is not right, that Libby is holding something back.
“’Ma’am, is there something you want to tell me?’ ‘No,’ she said. And it was the truth. She didn’t want to tell him anything.”
The pressure is tangible, intense, and frightening. Fear hangs in the air. Panic, dismay, and distress, are replaced with sadness, regret and heartache as the search for Ethan takes a strange new form.
“Lost You” is a cautionary tale of parenthood, and the legal uncertainty people can face. It is a compelling work of fiction that shadows reality. Reality, of course, is not as extreme, not as deceptive, but is traumatic nonetheless. I received a copy of “Lost You” from Haden Beck, and Crown Publishing. I absolutely recommend it. I could not put it down.