Leaving Unknown had me laughing in the first few pages. From the protagonist, Maeve Connelly...
"I've always been restless. I can't seem to settle on anything. I had no idea what I want to do and a lot of time on my hands. That's when the trouble began. That's when I discovered facebook.com."
Maeve reconnects with an old friend out in California. She also discovers the Facebook app 'Cities I've Visited'. (it's real) She's always had a fascination with place names. (I must admit to sharing this appeal) Impulsively and with nothing to hold her in Charlotte NC, she decides to drive to California, taking the scenic route and stopping in as many oddly named places as she can. (Climax, Toast and Whynot NC, Ninety Six, SC and many more - all real. (Satan's Kingdom in Vermont seems a little worrisome)
Maeve packs her cockatiel Oliver and herself into her battered car Elsie and strikes out. They do pretty well until Elsie breaks down outside of Unknown, Arizona. Maeve is forced to wait in town while parts are ordered. She also needs to find a way to pay for those parts. And it is here that the story really begins.
The town of Unknown and its denizens come to life under Reich's pen. Unknown is full of eclectic characters and settings. The residents are warm, caring and funny. I connected with every one of them. The town is a world unto itself. I was totally enamoured of the bookstore that Maeve finds work in. Unknown is a place I could call home.
The longer Maeve waits for the parts, the happier she becomes. She's found work, friends, a purpose and maybe...love? Maeve discovers that sometimes the road less travelled leads you right where you need to be.
I thought the book was an excellent chick lit read, but Reichs surprised me midway through the novel with a character's revelation about their past. I didn't see it coming at all. This added another layer to an already wonderful book.
Kerry Reich's writing style is warm, witty and effortless. The story and the characters will stay with you after you turn the last page, wondering what's going on in Unknown...
A marvelous read - 5 stars and highly recommended. Reich's first book - The Best Day of Someone Else's Life - just as good!
You can find Kerry on Twitter.
(A small interesting tidbit - Kerry is the daughter of author Kathy Reichs)