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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Long Way Back

Narrators: Cassandra Campbell,

Rebekkah Ross

ISBN: 978-1982115104

Publisher: Atria

Publication Date: 06/13/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

When an Instagram-famous teenager mysteriously disappears, her mother grapples with the revelation of dark secrets in this twisty, atmospheric thriller—from the author of the “poignant, riveting” (Wendy Walker, author of Don’t Look for Me) Everything We Didn’t Say.

Mother and daughter Charlie and Eva never sought social media fame, but when a stunning photo of Eva went viral, fame found them. Now, after more than two years documenting life on the road in their vintage Airstream trailer, the duo has temporarily settled on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Eva is happily finishing her senior year of high school and applying to college, but Charlie longs for the adventures they left behind.

When Eva goes missing less than a week before her graduation, it’s Charlie who is immediately suspected of foul play—not just by their fans, but also by the police and the FBI. As a fight about one more road trip comes to light, and the truth about their relationship is questioned, Charlie realizes the rosy facade they portrayed online hid a complicated and potentially dangerous reality. Now, to clear her name and find out what has happened to her daughter, she’ll have to confront her own role in Eva’s disappearance—and whether she knows her daughter at all.

My Review

Master storyteller and the queen of family thrillers, Nicole Baart, returns following Everything We Didn't Say (5 Stars) with her latest powerful and moving thriller, THE LONG WAY BACK.

Emotionally charged and psychologically rich— an intense, compelling, and skillfully-plotted suspense of family dynamics where two storylines collide in a race against time.

A mother-daughter duo turns into Instagram Influencers with exploring and adventure, while another family is brooding and plotting.

The author takes you on a wild roller coaster ride with alternating chapters and intriguing side commentary. You may be wondering where the author is headed, but do not stress—enjoy the ride. Expect the unexpected.

Mother Charlie and daughter Eva Sutton decide to travel in their vintage Airstream trailer after a photo of Eve by a waterfall goes viral. Soon they are enjoying the beautiful country and sites while attaining a few sponsorships to afford them to continue their journey for two and half years.

They are an Instagram hit with lots of followers on social media. Charie homeschools Eva (once bullied in school for being fat) and attempts to keep their faces out of the main photos.

The Sutton Girls IG page turns to Eva Explorers, and their vintage Airstream is now called Sebastian. There are many adventures, and fans enjoy following them along their journey. While on the road, they are placed in the public eye—their new life could be fun, exhilarating, and exhausting.

Little do they know how dangerous social media can be. Who has been watching and observing?

They temporarily settle in a small Minnesota town while Eva finishes her senior year of high school and prepares for college. She wants to settle down in one place for a while. She works part-time as a waitress at Mugs at a local cafe and wants to be a writer like her mom.

Charlie misses the adventure, and they have words about it. They are on their boat, Summer Moon, on Lake Superior at night, and Charlie falls asleep. When she awakens, Eva is missing.

In alternating chapters, we hear updates about the investigation and Charlie's desperation to find her daughter. She thought she knew her daughter as they were close, but did she? Was she too overprotective, and was her daughter wanting to break away from her and spread her wings to become more independent?

Charlie is a suspect. Are they trying to get media attention for more followers?

There are Instagram posts from fans posting their thoughts and speculations on the disappearance, pointing fingers at Charlie, and Essays from Eva, which provide insight and perspective, and enhance the overall story.

We also get snippets of a boy named Zach that Eva likes, but her mom is unaware she has a boyfriend until the investigators show her video footage.

Where are her computer and phone? Where is she? Does she have friends, and did she keep her life secret from her mom? Is Eva too sheltered and naïve to know when she is in danger?

New evidence is uncovered as the investigation heats up, leading them down a dangerous, violent path. Is Eva being held, prisoner? They need clues to find her before it is too late. Is she alive and who took her? There is no ransom note.

What a story! Atmospheric, Riveting, Haunting! In The second half (Part Two Eva), the book takes a 180 turn keeping you turning the pages into the wee hours of the morning, desperate to know more about Eva. You know darkness is lurking around the corner.

Surprising, action-packed, propulsive, and twisty! Now age 17, we learn much about Eva through her College Essays (brilliantly done). Nothing is as it appears.

A cautionary tale of the dangers of social media, exploring mother/daughter relationships and family. Known for her family dramas, THE LONG WAY BACK is Baart at her best! I loved it —it ranks in my top 10 thrillers of 2023.

Without giving away spoilers, for me, this was Gilmore Girls meets Gabby Petito's story, Joyce Maynard's The Influencers, Lisa Jewell's Then She Was Gone, meets Laura McHugh's What's Done in Darkness.

With her signature lyrical prose and winning style, the author brilliantly explores two sides of a coin—broken and beautiful in this atmospheric family saga, both timely and thought-provoking.

A massive fan of the author, this is my fourth book, and all are five stars. You know, when you pick up one of her books, to set aside the time. Unputdownable. I love her style. If you enjoy twisty, family dramas, surprises, social media, true crime, and intelligent well-written thrillers, this is for you!

My Q&A Interview with Nicole #AuthorElevatorSeries | Everything We Didn't Say

Thanks to #AtriaBooks for a gifted ARC via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I also ordered the audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell (fav) and Rebekkah Ross. Can't wait!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 💙 Stars +

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

Top Books of 2023


"You won’t be able to predict the journey Baart is taking you on when you start the novel, and she will keep you guessing where she is headed until the very end.” —Glamour

“The Long Way Back is a beautifully written, atmospheric, page-turner, that brilliantly explores the complexities of the mother-daughter bone, finding it as fraught as it is profound.”

—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of A Good Marriage and Friends Like These

"For any parent, the most frightening nightmare is the disappearance of their child. In Nicole Baart’s extraordinary novel The Long Way Back, not only is a mother tortured by this terrible circumstance, but she also becomes a primary suspect. Baart writes with a poet’s eye for language and a storyteller’s gift for suspense. Readers already won over by Nicole Baart’s fine body of work will discover another sparkling gem, and new readers couldn’t find a better place to begin."

—William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land

“Riveting and timely, The Long Way Back is not just an unforgettable mother-daughter thriller, it’s a deeply felt love story about the natural world. In beautiful prose, Nicole Baart has penned a novel that will stick with me for a very long time.”

—Jo Piazza, bestselling author of We Are Not Like Them

“In Nicole Baart’s gripping new thriller The Long Way Back, a mother creates a perfect Instagram life for herself and her teenage daughter, traveling the country while chronicling their adventures for legions of fans. But despite doing everything right, never posting her daughter’s face and never identifying their location until they’ve moved on, things go horribly wrong. Timely and provocative, Baart’s marvelously relatable characters and gifted storytelling take the reader on a wild and unexpected ride. I loved this book!”

—Karen Dionne, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister

"Nicole Baart is the queen of the family thriller! This tender, propulsive story reveals a heart-twisting understanding of human nature and the risks we take to get what we want. Timely and thought-provoking, this “turn the pages as fast as you can" cautionary tale about the danger of the spotlight and the steep price of privacy will surprise you and haunt you, even after the gasp-worthy conclusion. Baart crafts her mother-daughter suspense not only with soul and passion and stomach-churning tension—but also a deep and important wisdom. Book clubs rejoice--this is the novel for you!”

—Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author

"In The Long Way Back, Baart achieves the nearly impossible feat—writing that is tense and propulsive as well as poetically rendered. A beautiful story about the fraught relationships between parents and their children, the tension between growing up and learning the difficult truths about the dangers of independence, The Long Way Back will have you turning pages late into the night and holding your breath until the final, emotional scenes. I absolutely loved it."

—Danielle Girard, USA Today bestselling author

About the Author

Nicole Baart wants to live in a world filled with handwritten letters, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and great conversation.

A critically acclaimed novelist, Nicole’s work has been featured as a Midwest Connections book pick, nominated for a Christy Award, and earned a starred and featured review from Publishers Weekly. In 2011 she co-authored a book that debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Nicole is also the co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, that partners with a sisterhood of churches and orphanages in Monrovia, Liberia. An adoption advocate and the mother of four children from four different countries, Nicole speaks on a variety of topics ranging from orphan care to parenthood to books and the writing process.

When Nicole’s not writing, working for One Body One Hope, or carpooling her children from school to hockey to gymnastics to cello lessons, you can usually find her outside. A lover of the great outdoors and a child at heart, Nicole’s favorite pastimes include playing with her kids, gardening, camping, and practicing her many hobbies including running, photography, baking, and re-teaching herself how to play the piano.

Nicole lives with her family in a small town in Iowa, but holds dual American/Canadian citizenship and considers British Columbia her second home. Since Liberia is also home, Nicole likes to think of herself as a global citizen. She and her family love to travel and hope to see the world together–before her kids are too old to consider their parents cool.

Nicole’s novels range from romantic to suspenseful, but she is known for her artistic prose and finely drawn characters. Her stories celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and beauty in the midst of brokenness. WEBSITE

Q&A Interview Elevator Ride with

Author Nicole Baart

Everything We

Didn't Say







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