Saturday, December 22, 2012

My take on: Shunning Sarah

I must confess, I let Shunning Sarah by Julie Kramer fall by the wayside. I started it in August and didn't finish it until December. It was not a bad book at all, it was actually pretty good. But because I read so many books at once, I often give some priority over others. Anyway, better late than never!!

This was my first introduction to Julie Kramer's books and the character Riley Spartz. Riley is both funny and intelligent in her adventures as an investigative TV reporter. She's always searching for the next big story. She loves hunting down clues and getting to the heart of the matter. Those skills will come in handy in her next assignment. What starts out as a seemingly small story, turns into a large-scale murder investigation.

When a young boy named Josh Kueppers falls into a sinkhole, Riley immediately smells a larger story. Of course she is right, otherwise there would be no point to the book. Josh spent the night cold and scared, but he wasn't alone. Doesn't that sound creepy? In the first few chapters, I was scared for Josh. The eyes of a dead naked woman were staring up at him. He's constantly wondering if he will ever get out and see his parents again. Who is this woman? How did she get there? Does someone out there care about her?

All of the chapters are fairly short, and when I was actively reading the book I was constantly turning the pages to find out what happened. When Riley gets the full scope of the story, she is desperate to get to the bottom of things. Discovering the truth could be the turning point in her professional career and in her personal life. The TV station is still reeling from a mass shooting. I have a feeling some of those details are covered in previous books in the series, but I did get the gist of it. Riley's mentor was murdered in the shooting, and now she has a new boss, Bryce Griffin, who is a total jerk. Ratings and advertisers mean more to him than running an interesting, investigative, and honest news story. Discovering this woman's killer is very low on his list of priorities. Bryce isn't Riley's only stumbling block in this investigation.

The murder victim turns out to be Sarah Yoder, a young Amish woman who was being shunned by her community and her family. Why was she shunned? Did she leave the community on her own or was she forced out? Trying to get answers out of the Amish community proves difficult. They see the "English" and everything they stand for as the enemy. The Amish are not part of modern society. They are closed off in their own world. Finding out who killed Sarah isn't a priority. You can tell some members of the family did care about Sarah, but they're afraid to show it. I just don't understand that. I don't know enough about the Amish to truly understand the principles that they live by. But Riley is determined to understand, despite the danger it puts her in.

I wish we had be given suspects a little earlier in the book. The first real suspect given comes pretty late in the story. I knew right away that the suspect we're given couldn't have done it. There were too many pages left for the book to end on that note. There had to be more to it. When the murderer was revealed, it felt a little rushed. I would have liked to hear more from this character. More about this character's pysche. Reading the book, you learn a lot about Riley. Everything else is more of a backdrop. This seemed like it was more about Riley's efforts to overcome an evil boss and rise up the corporate ladder. The murder was just the next obstacle for her to overcome. Overall, I liked the book, and I would definitely read another book by Julie Kramer again.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Emily Bestler Books/Atria) in exchange for an honest review.

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