This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko Review

Release Date: July 3rd, 2014
 Summary from Goodreads:
When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that changes everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so how can he bring her back? As Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister, Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape of life without her sister. While her parents fall apart, Claire remains determined to keep going even if it kills her. THIS IS SARAH serves as a meditation on loss, love and what it means to say goodbye. 


*I received an eCopy in exchange for an honest review.

Hi, this is Sarah. You know what to do.

This is Sarah is a harrowing tale about the disappearance of a teenage girl and the devastating impact it has on the two people closest to her. Although the book is called This is Sarah, it isn’t Sarah’s story, but rather the story of the people Sarah left behind.

Although the subject matter of This is Sarah is tough to stomach, it was one of my favorite reads of 2014. The story is told from alternating POV between Sarah’s boyfriend, Colin, and her sister, Claire. It was an emotional journey through the minds of both Colin and Claire. Colin struggled to deal with his own anger and grief, while Claire was suffocated by the impact Sarah’s disappearance had on her family. It was devastating seeing them both react to Sarah’s disappearance.

Where are you, sweetheart? Where did you go that you can’t come back from? Why can’t you come back?

 I really liked both Claire and Colin. I thought Malinenko really breathed life into them.  I think it would have been easy for Claire and Colin to tell us about their grief and pain and devastation but instead through Malinenko’s words the reader is really able to feel what they both felt. I was really able to delve into the deepest, darkest parts of both characters thoughts. I think the rawness and realness of both characters was what drew me into the story most. It was painful to see both characters suffer through this tragedy but what I found most heartbreaking was Claire’s struggle. Not only was her sister likely abducted, but she also felt the “survivor’s guilt” of being the sister left behind. Her whole world was turned upside down and she wasn’t able to find solace in her family, instead she found more pain. This was really hard for me to stomach. As for Colin, his love for Sarah was one of the purest loves. He is undeniably loyal to her, even a year after her disappearance. However, his feelings for her and the guilt he feels over her disappearance is crippling and begins to tear his world apart.

I still see her face, turned up at me, with that smile. My God, how she smiled.

The mystery that surrounded Sarah’s disappearance kept me thoroughly engrossed and invested in the story. Malinenko was able to plant seeds of doubt in my mind that left me wondering if someone closest to Sarah could indeed be responsible for her disappearance. I enjoyed the artful way the mystery was entwined with the characters’ stories.

With its gut-wrenching and heartbreaking subject matter, This is Sarah is a powerful book that will take readers on an emotional rollercoaster.  Although I found the ending to be rather satisfying, This is Sarah is definitely one of those stories that concentrates more on the journey than the destination so it may leave some readers wanting more. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more from Malinenko in the future!