Right Where You Left Me, published by Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books
“Proof positive that Calla Devlin’s masterful first book was not beginner’s luck. This is a powerful, assured, lyrical, soaring coming-of-age story.” —Jeff Zentner, author of Goodbye Days and The Serpent King, winner of the William C. Morris Debut Award
After Charlotte’s father is kidnapped, she and her mother must overcome their differences and find a way to rescue him in this eloquent, moving portrayal of family.
Charlotte’s father specializes in nature’s acts of violence. In search of the perfect story for his newspaper, one that can put a human face on tragedy, he will fly into the eye of the storm. And now he’s heading to Ukraine, straight into the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. Charlotte doesn’t want him to go, leaving her alone in a silent house with her mother, whose classically Russian reserve has built a wall that neither of them knows how to tear down. But she’s holding it together okay—until the FBI comes knocking on their door. The quake has left many orphans, but Charlotte refuses to be counted among them. Whatever it takes to get her dad back, she’ll do it. Even if it means breaking a promise . . . or the law.
Praise & News
"Devlin, a finalist for the William C. Morris Award, enters ripped-from-the-headlines territory in her sophomore novel. High-school senior Charlotte has always had a closer relationship with her father, a reporter for the San Francisco Tribune, than her Russian immigrant mother. Mom has kept her at a distance, Charlotte believes, because she’s still grieving Charlotte’s older sister, who died as a baby. Rightfully worried when her father goes missing in the aftermath of an earthquake in Ukraine, Charlotte is terrified to learn that he’s actually been captured by rebels and is being held hostage. A photojournalist for her school’s paper, she’s always dreamed of following in his footsteps, but now? All she wants is him home safe, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes. Devlin beautifully weaves in Russian folktales, illuminating Charlotte’s complex feelings about her mother… it’s these moving moments of a mother and daughter finally bridging the gap that make the novel shine. A thought-provoking examination of familial love." —Booklist
"Where other people flee the death and destruction of a natural disaster, Charlotte’s dad packs his bags to head toward the epicenter of the crisis. Her father is a journalist who covers the world’s worst catastrophes. He is also the glue that holds their small family together. Whenever he leaves for an assignment, the distance between Charlotte and her stoic Russian mother becomes an uncrossable chasm. During these absences, the teen depends on her friendships to help distract and comfort her. When Charlotte’s father disappears while covering an earthquake in Ukraine, Charlotte and her mother are forced to break down their emotional walls in order to cope with the possibility of losing the person they both love. Devlin writes a compelling story filled with complex characters. Russian folklore is sprinkled throughout, adding another layer of depth to an already engrossing story. The highly descriptive passages and adept use of imagery will leave readers feeling as though they are walking the colorful San Francisco streets and tasting the delicious Russian pastries cooked in Charlotte’s mother’s bakery. While the ending is a little too neatly pulled together, this is a well written novel overall that older teens are sure to enjoy." —School Library Journal
"Few YA writers stand out quite like Calla Devlin. With a unique and authentic voice she delivers characters that feel like they are in the room telling their stories. In Right Where You Left Me, Charlotte is navigating the precarious limbo of identity, buried grief and home while awaiting college acceptances when her father is kidnapped during a journalist assignment abroad. With page turning writing that is saturated in talent, Devlin holds us in both suspense and heartache alongside the close knit community that surrounds Charlotte setting the bar even higher for the entire YA genre!" —Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Wandering Bookseller
"Charlotte has always had an uneasy relationship with her guarded Russian-born mother, making the family dynamic tricky whenever her easygoing journalist father heads off to cover the latest disaster. Now he’s been taken hostage in Ukraine, and a desperate Charlotte seeks to take action that will lead to his return, even as she negotiates the changing equilibrium between herself and her mother without him...the writing is fluent and stylish, and Charlotte’s engagement with Russian folklore adds depth to her view of her family’s tragedies past and present. The book is insightful about the delicate equilibrium of families; its portrait of Charlotte’s mother, fierce, self-contained and yet dependent, is original and haunting, and Charlotte’s desperate need for her love is beautifully complicated. The parental abduction plot is suspenseful, but it’s the familial struggle that will really strike a chord with readers." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Seventeen-year-old Charlotte hopes to emulate her photo-documentary father who travels the world to “put a human face on” catastrophe. When assigned to cover an earthquake in the Ukraine, her father is held for ransom by local rebels. The crisis forces Charlotte and her emotionally distant, Russian-born mother to find their love for each other as they revisit the death of Charlotte’s sister and Charlotte’s own birth, which caused her mother to have a stroke. It also pushes Charlotte to envision a new professional future, test her friendships, and accept her love for Josh, a charismatic, daring outcast. Extensive excerpts from Russian folklore woven through the novel are the keys to Charlotte’s personal epiphanies. Since Charlotte’s mother deals with her anxiety by baking, readers will learn much about Russian food as well as the Russian stories. Charlotte’s friends on the school newspaper help her rebel against the slow government process, but their efforts almost bring disaster. Eventually, with her teacher’s guidance, Charlotte decides to explore the many facets of her photographic talent and learns to trust Josh, who risks expulsion and college admission to help the underdog." —VOYA
"Charlotte's feelings of helplessness and anxiety over the situation are compounded by her tenuous relationship with her Russian-immigrant mother, whose distance and reserve are the results of old traumas. Charlotte copes by weaving tales from Russian folklore throughout her story as a way of coming to terms with her own personal struggles...An intriguing element." —Kirkus Reviews
"Calla Devlin shall hereby be crowned as queen of writing family dynamics. Right Where You Left Me is a stunning follow up after Tell Me Something Real and is a treat for fans of Jeff Zentner and Jandy Nelson." —Tales of a Ravenous Reader
"With foggy San Francisco as a backdrop, the compelling story of Charlotte's missing father pushes her to confront her challenging relationship with her mom. If her dad doesn't come home, can Charlotte and her mom continue as a family? The sense of impending doom is palatable." —Pondering the Prose
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USA Today's Happily Every After Blog: Q&A with Calla Devlin
Voice America radio interview with Cynthia Brian
DSM Magazine: Calla Devlin on pivotal moments in her development as a writer.