Title: Finding Frances
Author: Kelly Vincent
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romantic Mystery
Retta Brooks thinks her life is on track after convincing her overprotective mom to stop home-schooling her and allow her go to Buckley High. She comes home from a night out with friends to find that her whole world has changed, and she has extremely hard decisions to make. Not to mention finding the answers to questions some people would rather she not know. Is she strong enough for what lies ahead?
There had to be something, somewhere. Didn’t there? Was Mom really a spy, maybe? It seemed crazy, but what rational mom gave weird instructions to follow in case something happened to her? Well, probably not a spy because since she was worried someone might find us. Maybe a former spy? Either way, there must be some reason she hated the police so much.
I went inside to the little area we called the Reading Room, just a wide hallway running between the living room and the kitchen. A comfy recliner nestled up against a tall bookshelf overflowing with paperbacks, and a lamp stood guard next to the chair. When I was little, I’d had my own small chair, and the two of us would sit there and read together. I remembered how proud I’d been when we’d thrown it out because I’d gotten too big for it, but then I’d missed sitting there with Mom.
That was a different time.
We did still exchange books quite a bit, however. I didn’t go in for Mom’s sci-fi or medical thrillers, but she’d turned me on to Barbara Kingsolver and Pat Conroy.
Even though it probably was overkill, I took pictures of the bookshelf, then pulled all the books off the top shelf and set them next to the recliner before falling into it.
I picked each book up and flipped through it, looking for any hidden documents.
Going through each shelf took almost two hours. And I’d found nothing except a few old receipts serving as bookmarks. Albertsons. Walmart. Greg’s Used Books & More. As I put the last set back, I saw that I’d disturbed the dust on each shelf. Now I’d have to dust the whole shelf and act like I felt better and got bored if Mom noticed.
After that task, I sat back down in the chair and leaned it back, pondering. That’s when it occurred to me that I hadn’t searched all the books in the garage, which was more likely to be where stuff might be hidden. Crap. But I was sick of digging through stuff at the moment.
Anyway, maybe the key to the puzzle was not in Mom’s possessions but instead in the story of the past. I remembered nothing before this house and hadn’t even been there at the crash. I’d always believed the whole family except Mom had been killed in the van wreck, but one thing that had bothered me on occasion was why I hadn’t been with them. Where would my parents and both my parents’ parents be going without me? Maybe I really had been there, too? Plus, it now seemed weird that Mom didn’t have some kind of permanent injury of scars from such a terrible accident.
I Googled everything I knew about the crash. I had the rough date, so I searched for news records of wrecks then. But there were tons, and the old newspaper records required payment. I found a few sites that would let me search accident reports by state, which made me realize I didn’t even know for certain where the crash had happened.
I did know that right after it happened, Mom had moved us to Buckley and rented this house. I’d been born in Lincoln, Nebraska, so maybe it had happened in Nebraska. Yet I’d always assumed we had already been living somewhere in Iowa. Maybe it was Mom’s family who was from Nebraska. But where else in Iowa had we lived? Des Moines, since that was the newspaper I’d found?
Also, it occurred to me that it was weird we didn’t have much money. If all those people had died, surely Mom inherited money or got insurance money. It made no sense.
Googling everybody who had died brought up records of long-dead people with similar names and nothing more. What if it was all made up? What if those weren’t their names at all? What if I was adopted—or worse, kidnapped? That would be crazy. But it also would explain why Mom was so paranoid.
Could that really be it?
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
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Kelly Vincent wrangles data weekdays and spends the rest of her time playing with words. She grew up in Oklahoma but has moved around quite a bit, with Glasgow, Scotland being her favorite stop. She now lives near Seattle with three cats who help her write her stories by strategically walking across the keyboard, with her first novel, Finding Frances, a fine example of this technique. She’s working toward a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth program. Find her at www.kellyvincent.net and @kvbooks on Twitter and Instagram.
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