In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault.*
A review by Marlyn Beebe.
When best friends Nora and Charotte were eleven, they shared a sixteen-year-old babysitter by the name of Rose. The small, idyllic town of Waverly, Connecticut was considered fairly safe even in 1990, and Rose often walked home alone at dusk. One day, she walked Nora to her house, then continued to her own home. She never arrived, though, and most people assumed that Rose had run away.
Nora never believed that, however. She always knew, somehow, that Rose was dead. Her feeling was proven true sixteen years later when she receives a call from Charlotte telling her that Rose has been found.
Nora, who had left Waverly as soon as she possibly could, at first believes that Rose is still alive. That thought is quickly quashed by Charlotte, who explains that Rose's remains had been found near the local pound, stuffed into a wicker trunk. Although Nora has always been certain that Rose was dead, she is shocked by this, and feels the need to go back to Waverly.
Telling her husband only that she's visiting her old friend Charlotte, Nora drives from her home in D.C. to Waverly, where Charlotte still lives in the house she grew up in. Once she gets there, she finds that for some unknown rason she really needs to know what happened to Rose, and starts asking questions of everyone she can find who used to know her.
As the reader might anticipate, there was much more to Rose's life than eleven-year-old Nora could possibly imagine. Although the adult Nora expects this, the reality completely stuns her.
The characters are believable, though not all likeable, and the story keeps the reader eager to learn what happened to Rose. Although this reviewer found the eventual revelation something of a disappointment, many will probably think it perfectly satisfactory. In any case, the prose is a delight to read and the relationships between the younger characters ring true, as do their perceptions of adult behavior.
*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.