Signs of You by Emily France {book review}

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Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.

When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.

When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

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Signs of You delivers a story about heartbreak, friendship, love and everything in between.

In her debut novel, Emily France takes a different approach on loss, exploring the depths of grief in a light manner. Told from Riley’s perspective, a sixteen year old struggling with life in the wake of her mother’s death, the story is laced with humor and laugh-out-loud moments that make this book stand out from your typical ya mystery.

When Riley sees her dead mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she may be suffering a post traumatic episode and seeks comfort among her three friends- that understand and share the pain of losing a loved one- and is surprised to learn she hasn’t been the only one experiencing these visions. One of her friends’ sudden disappearance only adds to the mystery.

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One of my favorite aspects of the book was France’s vibrant writing style. However, the character’s voice fell flat and I wasn’t emotionally invested enough to actually care for any of the characters. I found their friendship lacking and I couldn’t really identify with any of them. And while I couldn’t particularly empathize with Riley’s situation, I couldn’t help but enjoy her snarky remarks and sassy attitude.

“Holy Catholic crap,” Kate says, her eyes wide.” Should we like call the Pope or something?”
“Yeah, you have his cell number?” I mutter.
Finally, I am able to get Kate to smile.”

Noah was sweet, Kate was nice enough and even though Jay got on my nerves the majority of the book, he redeemed himself in the end. Another thing I enjoyed was that the story focused primarily on friendship and while the romance was there it was subtle and sweet. Riley’s growth was remarkable and I was glad she was finally able to escape her guilt and move on with her life.

“I pull the bird charm gently to my lips and give it a kiss. I extend my arm and let the necklace dangle above the rushing water below.
And I let it go.”

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As in regard to the plot, I think the author had done a fantastic job. It kept me on the edge of my seat, kept me guessing and I love how it took a religious belief, twisted it and made it into something more. I can only imagine how much research and effort was put in this book. The only thing I wish the story would have delved deeper into was the night Riley’s mother died. Riley’s guilt about the fight was constantly mentioned throughout the book but we never saw what was really behind that fight.

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All in all, I think everyone interested in mystery novels should give this a shot. Emily France’s vivid writing, her witty characters and her masterfully crafted plot will take you on a wild ride full of humor and wisdom that will stay with you long after you finish the book.

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★ ★ ★ ½

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