Have you ever lost a sock in the laundry? Have any of your pencils or pens ever disappeared from where you’d dropped them? Do you know someone who has been missing for a long time for no particular reason? Would you like to know where they’ve all gone? Welcome to a place called Here!
“Ever since the day her classmate Jenny-May Butler vanished, Sandy Shortt has been haunted by what happens when something- or someone- disappears. Finding has become her goal.
Jack Ruttle is desperate to find is younger brother, Donal, who vanished into thin air a year ago. So when he spots an ad agency, he’s certain that she will answer his prayers and find his missing brother.
But then Sandy disappears too, stumbling upon a place that is a world away from the only one she has ever known. Now all she wants, more than anything, is to find her way home.”
The moment I read the blurb, I knew that I would love this book. As you’ll soon learn, I’m a sucker for magic. So when this book promised to take me to a mystical land where everything that is lost exists, how could I resist?
The main characters in this book- Sandy Shortt and Jack Ruttle- have one thing in common. They are obsessed with finding the lost. For Jack, it is his brother, Donal, even though they weren’t so close in real life. It was as if something broke in him the moment the disappearance shook his family. It has been over a year and people around him have given up the search and are getting on with their lives. He cannot sleep properly, nor live like he used to. Life seems monotonous.
Sandy on the other hand is funny, crazy and cute. She’s the complete opposite of her name with a height that makes people notice her no matter what. She’d never liked Jenny-May as a child. The girl had been a bully and had made her life stale. Yet, since the day she disappeared, Sandy couldn’t help but see angelized images of her everywhere. Sandy became over cautious and obsessed with making sure nothing is lost. Her parents went through hell as throughout her childhood, Sandy would turn the house upside down just to look for a missing sock! She labelled all her clothes and her whole personality was something not one person could ever miss.
Yet, on her way to meet Jack Ruttle, she disappears! She had parked her car under a bridge and gone jogging in the ravine to cool her mind. Time passes and she realizes that she is lost. In her frenzy she stumbles upon a group of five campers whom she recognizes. After leaving the police force, she’d run her own missing persons agency. Her obsession was such that she wouldn’t rest till she found the missing person. She had learnt all those names by heart, visited families, run through the sites they were last seen and followed every link.
The campers, she now recognized, were a bunch of high-school kids who had disappeared twenty years ago! They take her to the city of the missing called “Here”. Somehow, Sandy realizes that there’s something queer going on. Her things start to go missing from the place where nothing can go missing. People are getting hostile. She’s in danger.
Back in reality, Jack Ruttle finds Sandy’s car. Now, with two people missing from his life, he begins his hunt for Sandy Shortt. No one believes him and he is told that she is a person who continually keeps disappearing, so there is no point in looking for her. They assure him that she’ll be back, but it doesn’t settle in Jack’s heart.
Love and criticism of psychiatry are two themes that run along the lines of the book. With Sandy’s OCD and her relationship with her handsome shrink, and Jack’s sinking relationship with his long-term girlfriend, we are thrown into a whirlwind of emotions, into the inner processes that make life worth living. Along with all this is the theatrical production of the Wizard of Oz in “Here”. The choice of the play parallels the hopes and dreams of all the missing people- “There is no place like home”. Indeed, that one desire to get back home echoes in every living heart in Here and even borders on danger at the desperation to return.
Overall, this book is long, elaborate and filled with little thrills which keep you engaged. Once you start reading it, you’ll start noticing every little thing around you, including the pencil that rolled under your bed and vanished. So watch out!
Genre- Romance, fantasy, bildungs roman
Setting- Modern day Ireland and a fantasy realm called Here
Recommended for- All ages