The Second Life of Ava Rivers
The Second Life of Ava Rivers
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Annotation: Eighteen-year-old Vera, eager to start college and escape the celebrity her family has endured since her twin's disappearance twelve years earlier, finds her world turned upside-down again when Ava returns.
Catalog Number: #167229
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 361 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-451-47830-4
ISBN 13: 978-0-451-47830-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018003873
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Vera has been sleepwalking through life since her twin sister Ava disappeared a dozen years ago from their Northern California hometown. Just as Vera is ready to start anew at college, Ava reappears, offering a chance for family healing even as questions about Ava's past remain. Lack of character depth and a plot that at times strains credulity mar this otherwise engrossing suspense novel.
Kirkus Reviews
A teen girl's life is turned upside down when her missing twin reappears after 12 years.Ava Rivers, the blonde fraternal twin of auburn-haired Vera, went missing one Halloween night, fracturing her otherwise harmonious family. After Ava's disappearance, the girls' brother, Elliott, spends his days living a drug-fueled and rather aimless life; their father quits his job and moves into the family basement, chain-smoking and scouring the Internet for leads about Ava; and their perfectly polished mother crams her days full of high-profile philanthropic events. Wonderfully snarky-voiced Vera is counting the days until she can move from her stifling home in laid-back Berkeley to attend college in Portland, Oregon. However, when Ava suddenly comes back, the Rivers' lives are seemingly put on hold. Ava's return brings about many changes for Vera—she defers college; rekindles a relationship with Max, Ava's African-American childhood best friend; and eventually pulls her family back together—but she struggles to familiarize herself with a person who is both a stranger and an intrinsic part of herself. An unconventional take on the well-trod subject of kidnapping, Gardner's (Perdita, 2015, etc.) clever offering features a surprising twist and should leave readers ruminating over what truly defines family. Vera is bisexual (as is her male love interest), and she and her sister are multiracial (white father, half Iranian/half Mexican mother).A deftly written examination of familial relationships, trauma, and post-adolescence. (Fiction. 14-adult)
Publishers Weekly
Almost 12 years earlier, Vera-s family was shattered when Ava, Vera-s six-year-old fraternal twin sister, disappeared. Since then, Vera-s parents have been distant and she keeps to herself at school. But everything abruptly changes when Ava, who has been imprisoned by a kidnapper for more than a decade, is found and returns home. Now, Vera-s mother and father begin to act like parents again; her estranged older brother (who, like the rest of the family, blamed himself for Ava-s disappearance) comes for visits; and Ava-s childhood friend, Max, is back in their lives. Still, there are unanswered questions: Why doesn-t Ava remember her childhood? And why is she reluctant to give information about her kidnapper, whose whereabouts are unknown? Gardner (Perdita) shows compassion as she delves into Vera-s emotions and Ava-s complicated sensibility while making potentially sensational subject matter seem plausible. Fans of The Face on the Milk Carton and Room will revel in the book-s generous supply of suspense, and although readers may separate truth from lies long before the characters do, they will stay anxiously glued to the pages. Ages 14-up. Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler, Regal Hoffmann and Assoc. (Aug.)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Gardner (Perdita, 2015) has crafted an elegant novel with themes of trauma, loss, and forgiveness at its heart. A heavy layer of mystery covers the story, forcing a sense of unease on the reader and making it difficult to place the novel in any one genre. It also keeps readers on their toes, mimicking the way that Vera and her family feel. As young children, Vera was her twin sister's foil. Now, she's defined by her twin sister's absence. Ava Rivers was abducted on Halloween when the girls were six. Since then, Vera's parents have never given up hope that their daughter might come back. When Ava suddenly does resurface, everyone has to adjust to the miracle. But there's something that feels off about Ava's return. Gardner drops subtle clues throughout the story, but the real pull of this novel lies in Vera's empathetic but frank perspective: "The very question of who she is seems to have stirred an equal and opposite reactionary question in me. Who am I?" Gardner's unforgettable voice blends Jodi Picoult's emotional, ripped-from-the-headlines storytelling with Mindy McGinnis' unflinchingly honest protagonists. Gardner's gorgeous language and the atmospheric tone makes this a well-crafted, genre-defying story that deserves a wide readership.
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12


"Deeply compelling."--BCCB

"A beautiful, moving, and thoughtful story about how far we're willing to go for family."
-Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces

Vera Rivers' life is split in two: before her twin sister Ava disappeared twelve years ago and after.

Before was hot Junes and ice cream trucks, dancing in sprinklers, loud Christmas mornings and pancakes on Saturdays. The after is everything else: police officers, investigators, tips, theories, leads, but never any answers. The case made headlines, shocked Vera's Northern California community, and turned her family into tragic celebrities.

Now, at eighteen, Vera is counting down the days until she starts her new life at college in Portland, Oregon, far away from the dark cloud she and her family have lived under for twelve years. But all that changes when a girl shows up at the local hospital.

Her name is Ava Rivers and she wants to go home.

Ava's return begins to mend the fractures in the Rivers family. Vera and Ava's estranged older brother returns. Vera reconnects with Max, the sweet, artistic boy from her childhood. Their parents smile again. But the questions remain: Where was Ava all these years? And who is she now?

Powerful and gripping, The Second Life of Ava Rivers is equal parts thriller, mystery, and haunting meditation on grief, family, and forgiveness.

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