A little over two years ago I set up an interview for my boss and local author Justina Chen, who was doing research for her newest novel. Needless to say I have been patiently waiting the release of her book, Return to Me, ever since!
Return to Me is technically a young adult novel, but I think it's something a person at any age would enjoy. In it Rebecca Muir has just graduated from high school in the Pacific Northwest and is preparing to study architecture across the country at Columbia in the fall. She has mixed feelings of apprehension (her boyfriend is staying behind to finish high school...) and excitement (she will get some space from her parents!) about this change. But all her well-thought-out plans fall to pieces when her mother announces that the entire family will be following her due to a change in her father's employment situation. And Rebecca's father unexpectedly advises her to try and maintain a long distance relationship with her boyfriend, Jackson, although she had been planning to break things off.
Rebecca is plagued with sixth sense premonitions that something is going to go terribly, horribly wrong after the family relocates. And a revelation by her father shortly after the move sends Rebecca's whole existence into a tailspin, and she is left with her mother to try and pick up the pieces of their lives. As Rebecca goes through a significant period of self discovery, she realizes that her dreams of going to Columbia and becoming a corporate architect were her father's, not her own. She embarks upon a summer adventure to find herself and what it is she really wants.
Return to Me is ultimately about self discovery and personal relationships, especially between mother and daughter. And although there aren't really any twists, turns, or cliff hangers, the book is packed full of raw emotion and you can truly see right into the souls of the characters. I really liked the simplistic, pure message in this novel: Find out who you are and follow your dreams. This book would be a great gift for the high school seniors in your life.
(And my boss does make a cameo appearance as a character toward the end of the novel... I felt famous by association when I read that part!)