If you read this review, be prepared for spoilers, because it’s a book review, damn it! :0

But seriously, you know my policy. No spoilers, no reviews.

Recommendation: I do recommend this book. It’s a read you can’t put down, and the dynamic between the two main characters works good, and lets you slowly get to understand the difficulty the title character has been through in the past three years, and his trouble adjusting, as well as the hardship it puts on his friends. Thought-provoking, not disturbing given the subject (IMO, and remember, I have low tolerance for disturbing/creepy/horror/abuse/etc), so I grade it at A.


We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

We Now Return to Regular Life, by Martin Wilson

Wow, book 21 of the year! Crazy, my friends. Crazy. Got this book as library rental, recommended by someone as a thought-provoking, but good book with very realistic characters. Decided to read it as I needed a quick break from the Scorch Trials. Let’s see how many books I get through this weekend.


  • Beth — An interesting, well developed character, and I liked how her storyline veered away from Sam and into how her social life was affected by Sam’s return. The break’s from Josh’s more Sam-intense storyline actually helped the flow of the novel, and was pretty realistic. It didn’t stray into any melodramatic areas. Her need to distance herself from her friends made sense, given the dramatic change her life had gone through. Her dad’s distance made sense, and was original from the traditional “stray-father leaves because he’s a terrible guy.” Her relationship with Donal cracked me up. A lot of young adult novels suffer from the “bad friends” trope, and it was nice seeing Beth having surrounded herself with good people.
  • Josh — The flashbacks at the beginning were very revealing. We saw how Sam’s role in his life was a negative one early on, and borderline abusive. He grew so much in Sam’s absence, as sad as it is to say, and I understand where Nick was coming from when he said he wasn’t exactly disappointed that Sam was gone. Given all that, Josh suffers from his own guilt, and that leads him to be one of the only people who reaches out to poor Sam after he comes back. The interaction between the two developed well, and this was where we found out most about Sam and his hardships. It also brought out a different storyline–one of where we saw how others didn’t know to react to Sam, and therefore avoided him. Josh is basically blacklisted by his friends for hanging out with the “weird kid.”
  • Sam — Has many issues, obviously, stemming from his kidnapping and abuse, but this isn’t really the focus of the novel. It’s about him adapting, and coming to understand that it is possible to move on, though things will never be the same as they are before. We never were inside his head, which worked well, because we saw his nonverbals/external side before and after the abduction, and how he changed throughout the novel. There was more mystery involved, and more interpretation needed, which worked well as it made you think more as the reader, and try to put yourself in Sam’s shoes. Which is the point of the novel, right?


  • I liked that the novel didn’t focus on the abuse. That’s not why I’m reading it, and hopefully, not why you are. There are enough novels/shows like that, for people that want that kind of stuff (one of the reasons I’m avoiding reading the fourth/fifth ASOIAF novels). IT was about recovering from trauma, and how the right people can help you in that process. There’s no cure, necessarily, but you can get better.
  • Beth’s storyline I’m sure will be considered a tangent by some, but again, it goes to show how the novel wasn’t about the trauma, it was about the recovery. Beth was deeply affected by the abduction, and now that Sam’s back, her life is turned upside down again. Her coping mechanisms can’t work in this new reality. Her distance from Sam’s storyline WAS her storyline. She resolved her mid-life crisis with her friends, but she still could not bring herself to help Sam when he needed her. I felt a pit in my stomach when Sam told Josh he couldn’t talk to Beth about this stuff, because he knew she didn’t want to hear it. This poor kid. Beth’s storyline also got us away from Sam when perhaps it was too much for us, the readers. I like Beth’s friends, and her budding relationship with Donal was entertaining. That poor guy couldn’t catch a break at first, but he didn’t give up, and he gave her the space she needed.
  • Josh and Sam’s dynamic was awesome (aside from one minor thing, addressed below). Josh went out of his way, whether due to guilt or friendship, or both, to help Sam out and be the only friend Sam had. And Sam didn’t take advantage of that. This time around, he was a good friend, and you knew he appreciated everything Josh did for him. Sam seemed to have so many memories based around his time with Josh before the abduction, and when Josh thinks back, he remembers one instance where Sam was reluctant to go home. This makes me wonder… was Sam truly that bad of a friend to Josh? The reveal of what happened at the bike path didn’t put Sam in that bad of light–it was worse in Josh’s initial tale to Beth. Was it exaggerated by Josh’s own insecurities at that age added to Nick’s reveal that Sam said he was lame. I feel that in retrospect, we can push blame for things on people, or exaggerate the damage that they did. Perhaps Sam wasn’t as bad as Josh remembered. Nick seemed to be pushing that anyway–did we ever have any evidence that he was clepto? “He never admitted to stealing it, but I know he did.” IDK about that, Nick. And then Nick’s jealousy when Josh started spending all that time with Sam. My theory is that Nick was a little jealous of Sam back in the day. Totally a theory though. Either way, the Josh and Sam dynamic in the present day was truly well-developed and their friendship well earned. It was interesting to see a more subtle Sam trying to earn back Josh’s friendship, as if he knew he wasn’t the best friend back in the day.
    • The sex scene was weird. I’ll say it as it is. It was never resolved. It happened, was ignored, and was just plain odd. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t happen. I mean, Donal repeatedly brought up his kiss with Beth, and that’s something I could buy two people not talking about, because it’s just a kiss. But when things get sexual, and they’re never resolved… that just doesn’t happen. Either the friendship ends, or it’s talked about. IDK, that just was weird, out of place, and made no sense. My only thought is the that the author considered it resolved when he had Josh decide that it was “repayment” for listening to the Kaylee story… which… no. That is wrong on so many levels, especially given the likely abuse Sam went through. Again, this was odd, was never resolved, and just bugged me even after I finished the novel. If this had been handled differently, I would give the book top-shelf status.
  • Why didn’t Josh tell anyone? I understand why Beth didn’t? But why didn’t Josh tell anyone about the creep truck following him around? That really bothered me. I get it, sort of, but I think I need a better reason than “I thought he might be being polite.” But I totally see how once he told the lie to his parents and the police, and kinda covered for Beth, he didn’t want to recant. And that’s the explanation I’m going with, so with that, I can understand. And it truly did bug him the past three years. He told it to a sleeping Nick, which shows how it was eating him up.
  • The way the others reacted to Sam “the weird/creepy/crazy” kid is a driving force of the novel. When we hear stories like this, I think the first think we think of is mental damage. How much therapy will they need. Even in the news, “years of therapy” is always mentioned. And it’s sad, because if Josh wasn’t around, or if he listened to his friends/parents, Sam wouldn’t have had anyone to help him through this, initially, as he said he wasn’t revealing everything to his shrink. I don’t necessarily think Josh’s parents were wrong to be nervous–I mean, Sam could be crazy after what happened, but it was something to think about.
  • I would have liked a longer ending. I don’t think it would have hurt to have a little more resolution to Sam, a few more pages on his adjustments. Also, I was just sad to see these people go. I’m gonna miss these characters. They were more life-like than many novels I’ve read recently. I think Wilson is an incredible author in that regard, based on this book. I may check out his other works.
  • The reveal of the title’s meaning–perfect!

Overall, a different take on the topic. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. Would it be disturbing? Creepy? Graphic? Violent? It was none of the above. It was about a teen healing from a trauma, and how it affected two people close to him, and how they all moved forward together. I thought the messages of the novel were excellent, thought-provoking, and original. One scene is keeping it from a full A+ grade, but hey, it’s still a great read, and so I name it an A. Nearly top-shelf status.


Confused by my grading scale, click here to find out how the grades relate to star-ratings you’re more used to seeing.