Desire Lines – Book Review

by Dawn

5M4B disclosure


High school friendships often stay with us forever, and even if we lose touch with the individuals who saw us through the turbulent time of adolescence, their memories can remain strong with us as the years pass. In Christina Baker Kline’s novel Desire Lines, the mysterious disappearance of Jennifer Pelletier on the night of her high school graduation leaves her family and group of friends with unanswered questions and an unsettled feeling for years, none more so than Kathryn Campbell, Jennifer’s best friend. After a decade passes, Kathryn is at a crossroads in her life, and perhaps the key to finding her own path is uncovering the one Jennifer took ten years earlier.

After a short-lived marriage and a career that was never fully developed, Kathryn doesn’t know what to do next. Until she can figure out where she wants to be and what she wants to do, she returns to her hometown in Maine to stay with her mother for what she imagines will be a short time. Coincidentally, she returns just in time for her ten year reunion, an event that bears the weight of Jennifer’s disappearance, and one that she wasn’t particularly enthusiastic to attend. However, when an old classmate and friend from her circle of high school pals asks her to write a piece for the local paper focusing on Jennifer’s disappearance, Kathryn once again immerses herself in the memory of that night.

As she begins to pick up the stories where the reporters and detectives left them years earlier, her connections to the people who played big parts in Jennifer’s life give her an edge the others didn’t have. Her interviews with the people who were closest to Jennifer only elicit seemingly meaningless tidbits about the teenage friendships and relationships- the stories of who liked whom, and who felt slighted by whom. With each person interviewed, Kathryn discovers another perspective about Jennifer that is new to her, and she starts to realize that perhaps none of them actually knew her very well at all, or at the very least, they each knew a part of her, but putting together the whole picture might give the needed clues to solving the mystery of her disappearance.

While the unsolved disappearance of Jennifer Pelletier is at the heart of this novel, the mystery component of the story is just one part of the narrative, with Kathryn’s discoveries about herself making up another significant portion. Discovering how much of her post-high school life was influenced by the loss of her best friend, Kathryn might finally be able to stop drifting and figure out a path of her own.

At first, I had difficulty liking the character of Kathryn, for when we meet her, she’s at her absolute lowest point, and her attitude reflects that. She borders on surly with her mother when she returns to Maine, and it took me a little while to get to the point where I could start to feel compassion for her. I have to like at least a few things about the protagonist to truly enjoy a novel, and as Kathryn begins to get honest with herself, she became more likable to me as a reader. Though there were details to the climactic ending that I found inconsistent to the characters at hand, I was satisfied with the arc of the story as a whole. Though I’m not a reader of mystery stories, I enjoyed the mystery component to the novel, as it was coupled with a narrative focused on a female character searching for her way in life.

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Email Author    |    Website About Dawn

When she's not reviewing books, 5 Minutes for Books contributor Dawn (and her online alter ego, morninglight mama) can be found blogging at my thoughts exactly and contributing to The DC Moms.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DEBIJOT August 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I love a good mystery book.


2 anna August 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I so would love to have this book – sounds like a good one. I can read then the kids are in school


3 anne August 18, 2014 at 12:59 pm

This novel sounds enthralling and excellent. thanks for this great giveaway.


4 Daniel M August 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

sounds like a fun one!


5 Daniel M August 18, 2014 at 10:07 pm

entered Season of the Dragonflies


6 AEKZ2 August 19, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Sounds like a really good read. Thank you!


7 Linda Kish August 19, 2014 at 9:32 pm

I would love to win a copy of this book.


8 alice elzey August 20, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I would love to read this! Sounds like a really good book!


9 Sarah Hall August 21, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I would like a new book to read this winter when it is cold and snowy.


10 Anita Yancey August 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I love mysteries, so I would enjoy reading this book to see if she finds out what happened to her friend. But I think the book would also take me back to my own high school days, and my own memories. Thanks for having the giveaway.


11 kathy dalton August 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

This looks like a great read Thanks for a great review


12 Kathy Fleming August 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I love mystery books. Would love to read this!


13 Angela Saver August 23, 2014 at 8:20 pm

I love good mystery book, so this looks like a book I would really enjoy reading!


14 Christine L. August 25, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Though my high school years were long ago, I do sometimes reminisce about friendships that at the time seemed as though they would last forever. This book surely would evoke some memories. I do enjoy a good mystery so would enjoy this element.


15 Cindy Brooks August 26, 2014 at 3:36 am

I would love to return to my hometown for a short time. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be asked to solve any mysteries!


16 nannypanpan August 26, 2014 at 10:41 am

I think it sounds good


17 Jen Thomas August 27, 2014 at 8:46 pm

This sounds great!


18 Benita August 28, 2014 at 10:10 am

I’m always up for a good mystery.


19 Janice Crespo August 28, 2014 at 3:07 pm

The intrigue of the disappearance makes this sounds like a really good read. We can all use a little intrigue in our lives.


20 Christina G. August 29, 2014 at 8:26 am

I’d love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway!


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