Where You Can Find Me: Book summary and reviews of Where You Can Find Me by Sheri Joseph

Where You Can Find Me

A Novel

By Sheri Joseph

Where You Can Find Me
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

A searing exploration of a family's struggle to heal in the wake of unthinkable tragedy

A week after his eleventh birthday, Caleb Vincent vanishes with hardly a trace. After a three-year search, he is found living a seemingly normal life under a new name with a man he calls his father.

While outwardly stunned with joy at his safe recovery, Caleb's parents and sister are privately scrambling to gather together the pieces of a shattered family. To escape the relentless media attention surrounding her son's return, Caleb's mother, Marlene, decides to flee the country and seek refuge in Costa Rica with Caleb and his younger sister, against her estranged husband's wishes. There Marlene forms a makeshift household with her husband's expat mother and his charming, aimless older brother, all residing in a broken-down hotel perched at the blustery apex of the continental divide. In the clouds of their new home, the mystery of Caleb's time gone unfolds while new dangers threaten to pull him back toward his former life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Joseph (Stray, 2007) turns the sensationalistic story of an abused boy who has seen the darkest parts of life into a transformative and often suspense-filled tale of identity and resilience. A deeply moving novel about a family determined to survive the greatest of tragedies." - Booklist

"Joseph's preoccupations are less with plot than with honestly confronting the internal conflicts that can arise in reaction to unspeakable crimes. A fraught subject, handled with gravitas and, improbably, grace." - Kirkus

"All seems to be well, but one mark of a good writer is the ability to hint at the disquiet beneath what looks like a calm surface. Like Hilda's old hotel, part of it fallen into the valley and the rest teetering on the edge of a cliff, the reader is kept in a state of almost nail-biting uncertainty when it comes to this family's recovery. In Where You Can Find Me, Joseph takes on a difficult subject and makes it work." - Bookpage

"With compassion and profound psychological insight, Sheri Joseph follows one family through the aftermath of every parent's worst nightmare ... Suspenseful, beautifully written and utterly convincing, Where You Can Find Me is hard to put down and impossible to forget." - Jennifer Haigh, New York Times bestselling author of Faith, Mrs. Kimble, Baker Towers and The Condition

In Where You Can Find Me, Sheri Joseph has written an engrossing, deeply moving, and emotionally complex novel that has stayed with me every moment since I first read it, months ago. Joseph writes swift and faultless prose and miraculously real characters. This book spurs you to pay close attention to those around you and to love as fully in this life as you possibly can." - Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia and The Monsters of Templeton

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Karla
Disappointed
I was really looking forward to getting this book because the story sounded so interesting. Unfortunately I had a hard time getting through it. The book didn't have any intrigue until the last hundred pages, and even then it was short lived. I really wanted it to get better, but I was just left with a deficient feeling.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Linda S. (Arlington Heights, IL)
Where You Can Find Me
I was very interested in reading this book. A "ripped from the headlines" tale. The premise is intriguing. Boy kidnapped from his family, returned and then the aftermath. Unfortunately I expected so much more. The first problem I had was with the unlikeable mother, Marlene. She jaded my reading experience. I kept waiting for it to get better, hook me in. I just never got there. I had to re-read portions because my mind kept wandering. Maybe it'll grab me at another time...if I give it another chance which is unlikely.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Tracy N. (Mill Valley, CA) Tracys2cents@wordpress.
A Haunting, Messy Account of a Horrific Crime and Its Aftermath
Sheri Joseph's "Where You Can Find Me" is a haunting study of the messy dynamics of a family recovering from a kidnapping. Caleb Vincent, 14, returns to his family after being kidnapped when he was eleven years old. The family has suffered during his absence and his return brings confusion, guilt, media focus and a decision to retreat to Costa Rica where they can find privacy from the relentless media attention.
The parents are instructed at the very beginning to not ask any questions of Caleb about the time he was kidnapped, "Give him some space" says the FBI. And so the family waits for Caleb to tell what happened to him during the "Gone". The tension builds as bits of his imprisonment by a pedophile are leaked during the progression of the story. We watch for any signs of damage, trauma and try to make sense of who is Caleb.
There is rawness to the family as they display their vulnerabilities. Marlene, the mother, wants Costa Rica to give her, Caleb, and his sister normalcy when she has been addicted to the search for Caleb along with drugs and alcohol. The father stays behind in the U.S., missing. I did not like all the characters but found them very real.
But Caleb seems ambivalent about his family and remembers "Jolly", the man, who saved him from the pedophile network. Who is Jolly, savior or exploiter? Who was "Nicky", Caleb's alter identity during the period he was "gone". At times meandering, all tangents lead to the story of the reconstruction of a fragmented family in ways that would not be expected and might surprise.
As a psychiatric nurse, I found the messy reconstruction of a broken family very real and think Sheri Joseph did a good study of the Vincent family.

Rated 1 of 5 of 5 by Kenan R. (Liberty, MO)
Well - I Finished It
I was an English major. I like slice of life fiction that meanders with no discernible beginning or ending. I consider not finishing a book a personal failure. This book was almost my Waterloo. The description intrigued me, but the actual book was an abject let down. The characters were unformed, and the plot so tedious that standstill would be an overstatement. How does one take a child's abduction, return and move to Cost Rica, and make it so mind-numbingly boring? On a 10 hour bus ride from Kansas City to Dallas with my daughter's team I chose staring out the window into the darkness at what I assume was rural Oklahoma over reading this book.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)
Where I can be found
I liked the book at first start and thought it had good potential, however, it quickly faded. I did not like how the author reunited Caleb's abductor with Caleb. The context of the book also, at times lacked. I had a difficult time with finishing the book.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Cynthia C. (Peekskill, NY)
Wanted to like this more
I had high hopes for this book, based on the synopsis & reviews, but unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. I thought the story would be more about Caleb, including his kidnapping & return to his family. Instead, it mainly focused on Marlene, who I didn't find particularly interesting or likeable. I thought the story was a bit disjointed and that it dragged in some places.

...31 more reader reviews

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Sheri Joseph's novel, Stray, won the Grub Street National Book Prize. An unconventional love triangle leads to murder in this tale set in Atlanta. Two of Stray's central characters also appear in Joseph's first book, Bear Me Safely Over, a cycle of stories about two Georgia families being joined by marriage, which was a Book Sense 76 selection in both hardcover and paperback.

Sheri Joseph has already won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for Stray. A resident of Atlanta, Sheri Joseph teaches in the creative writing program at Georgia State University and serves as fiction editor of Five Points. Follow her on Twitter! @Sheri_Joseph

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