Rahul Goel

The Reappearance of Rachel Price

Posted on: June 04, 2024

This blog may contain spoilers; reader discretion is advised :)

Holly Jackson released her latest book a few months back, and this time I didn't read it immediately since I've been occupied with everything else in the world despite college being over.

Well, as the title suggests, this book is all about the reappearance of Rachel Price after 16 years of her mysterious and unsolved disappearance. The protagonist of the story is her daughter Bel, who was present at the time of her disappearance but doesn't remember anything since she was around two years old.

I think I've realized how Holly writes her protagonists. Bel is once again similar to Pip (from AGGGTM): smart, modern, and (mostly) reserved unless the situation calls for boldness. So, Bel was living her happy mother-less life with her Dad, and things were uncomplicated (or at least as uncomplicated as they could be). Her family, being short on cash, was reluctantly shooting a documentary related to Rachel's disappearance since the case got quite a lot of attention due to its mysteriousness. But then, amidst this, Rachel returns.

And unexpectedly Bel and her Dad are unhappy with that. It makes sense that you can't reconcile with someone and live happily forever after a 16-year gap. Due to this and the shooting of the documentary, there is immense tension in the family.

Bel, driven by her mother's dislike and suspicions regarding her whereabouts, takes it upon herself to investigate the disappearance and the reappearance. She unfolds some dark secrets about not only her but her entire family: her father, uncle, cousin, aunt, and grandfather. She realizes that her family pretends to be normal, but internally, everyone has their own secrets, which are twisted together with Rachel's disappearance.

The book remained really enjoyable until all these secrets were unfurled, leading to an insane yet plausible explanation for Rachel's disappearance and reappearance. The unveiling was paced well throughout the read and was thoroughly enjoyable. However, the ending was frankly just bad. The way everything transitioned to "normal life" for the protagonist was really rushed and had so many loopholes and unexplained/irrational decisions. It was simply unrealistic, and I hated it. The entire fiasco with Jeff and Charlie at the hilltop is unrealistic. Sherry simply agreeing to exit is unrealistic. Carter happily agrees to live with Rachel and her being alright with what happens to Jeff and Charlie: unrealistic. The police are not questioning anything at all after all this: unrealistic. These are only a few of the things, and I could go on and on.

This is the first book of HoJay that I didn't give five stars because of the end. I would have accepted an unhappy, messed-up, but grounded ending.