We Now Return to Regular Life - Martin Wilson

Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

I've never read anything from Martin Wilson before, but I probably will now! Told in alternating perspectives (one being Sam's sister, Beth, and the other being an old friend, Josh), this novel explores the difficulties and complexities of returning to "regular" life when Sam is returned after three years of being missing and presumed dead.

There's nothing pretty or flashy about the story. It's the gritty reality of putting lives back together and trying to re-build friendships and families in the aftermath of trauma. Some people don't seem to understand how Sam could have been at the mercy of an old man instead of breaking free and coming back home. They don't understand the toll of psychological trauma, or the fact that a guy could actually "allow" himself to be taken advantage of.

Wilson's writing is emotionally complex, and his characters fully realized. Josh and his family have a backstory, and Sam's own family drama is fleshed out in great detail without being excessive. I felt truly drawn into the tumultuous emotional landscape, and was actually glad that Wilson didn't try to tie everything up in a neat bow.



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