Title: Do Not Become Alarmed
Author: Maile Meloy
Today I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Maile Meloy’s newest novel, Do Not Become Alarmed – a story of missing kids on a tropical island! Read on to find out what I thought…
When Liv and Nora decide to take their families on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. The children, two eleven-year-olds, an eight-year-old, and a six-year-old, love the nonstop buffet and the independence they have at the Kids’ Club. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor misfortunes leads the families farther and farther from the ship’s safety. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.
What follows is a riveting, revealing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the once-happy parents now turning on one another and blaming themselves try to recover their children and their lives.
Celebrated for her ability to write vivid, spare, moving fiction, Maile Meloy shows how quickly the life we count on can fall away, and how a crisis changes everyone’s priorities. The fast-paced, gripping plot of Do Not Become Alarmed carries with it an insightful, provocative examination of privilege, race, guilt, envy, the dilemmas of modern parenthood, and the challenge of living up to our own expectations.
Do Not Become Alarmed is one of those books which really makes you think: “What would I do in this situation? How would I feel?”
I would be alarmed, I imagine! Following two families as they embark on an amazing cruise around Central America, we see the adults become separated from the kids on a zip-lining excursion. What follows is any parent’s nightmare…
The characters in this novel were interesting in that I found the adults rather unlikable. I know they’re going through a lot but I still felt that they came across as quite unpleasant. Liv also, at times, seemed rather snobby about the very area of the world they were cruising around, and her and her husband would rather stay on the boat rather than go and actually explore, because of not feeling safe. Each to their own, but as someone who would want to try and see as much of the place I’m visiting as possible, I can’t understand this (though I guess considering what follows… say no more!)
The kids handled the situation much better than the adults did, on the whole. I don’t mind unlikable characters in books – it often makes it a bit more interesting anyway – and so this didn’t bother me too much, though I didn’t feel hugely worried for them. I liked seeing how they reacted to the situation in very different ways, though I found the storyline with Neomi and Chuy to be less interesting and I found myself wanting to skip through those parts a little to get back to the main action!
I felt the story had some exciting parts and some which were a little slower, which probably reflects how it must feel for someone going through this. Investigations into missing people need to move fast, but I imagine there’s a lot of waiting around and just hoping and praying that the outcome is good. I can’t imagine what I’d feel like if this happened to me (though I don’t have kids) but I hope I wouldn’t do what Nora did… It’s interesting to read about how easy it is for families to shift the blame between them, and how one minute of distraction can have terrible outcomes.
This is an interesting read which is less of a thriller and more of a family saga/drama. It’s an insight into the anguish and tension which parents must experience when they ‘lose’ (in the literal sense) a child – and more than one child at that! And even worse – it’s all happening abroad, where there’s no familiar set of rules or procedures in place. I think this will make a good summer read – but perhaps don’t read it when you’re off on a cruise with kids, eh!