Everything We Left Behind, by Kerry Lonsdale
Publication: Lake Union Publishing; July 4, 2017
About the book:
Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower, and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.
Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.
Those of you that caught my review the other day of Everything We Keep, probably noticed that I wasn’t crazy about it. Yes, reviews have been mixed, but I think the majority of readers loved. I did not. However, I had already received the ARC of Everything We Left Behind and was curious…
Everything We Left Behind did not hold the suspense and twists that were a part of Everything We Keep, but I found that I enjoyed the follow-up much better than the first book.
At the end of the first book, James was emerging from his fugue state (as Carlos), wondering what in the world had happened and where he was. With no memories of his six years living as Carlos, James doesn’t recognize his children or Natalya, and he still considers Aimee the love of his life. Everything We Left Behind flashes back and forth between Carlos and James, and although there isn’t as much suspense, there is much deeper characterization. The author provides a closer look into James/Carlos, as well as, his children, Thomas, Claire, and Natalya. I must say that I felt that Ian was portrayed in a mostly negative light in this book, but I’ve also tried to remind myself that he is defensive over Aimee and the life they have built together.
Again, trying to avoid spoilers, Phil is presented in a more positive way in this book, based on his apparent efforts to save James from the trauma that prompted the fugue in the first place, however, I still don’t trust him. After losing myself in this second novel, I’m excited about the third novel due out next year and insanely curious as to where Kerry Lonsdale will take this story next. If you loved book 1, then you will love book 2. If you are like me and just didn’t understand all of the hoopla over book 1, give book 2 a shot. It is much more grounded and more of a study of human personalities than the the first one.
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.