If You’re Out There – Katy Loutzenhiser – Balzer+Bray – Published 5 March 2019
After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she’s baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all. Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing, and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that the friendship is finished.
It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.
Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility. Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails. Maybe she can’t.
If You’re Out There is an ode to the power of friendship. And while this YA title’s focus is on the friendship between two girls, there is the added bonus of sweet romance, diverse characters, and interesting and complex family dynamics, as well as the thread of mystery that weaves throughout the story. All in all, If You’re Out There is unique and delightful.
When Zan’s best friend Priya moved away she expected some changes – but not to be cut out of her life all together. Everyone tells Zan she should give Priya some space, but something seems off. With the help of the cute new boy in town, Logan, who has his own secrets, Zan sets out to reconnect with Priya.
Zan is literally a kick-butt character. She can more than take care of herself and she isn’t afraid to put herself in harm’s way to find out what’s going on with Priya. Through snippets of Priya’s journal, it is confirmed for the readers that Zan is on the right track, but Zan’s quest for clues is thrilling. The only thing missing from the end was an ‘I told you so’ moment, but Zan probably would have been too nice to do that.
Zan’s family is lots of fun, but also brings some complications that she must work through. Her relationship with her dad is strained after the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, and though she gets on well with her little brother, mother and mother’s girlfriend, her emotions swing wildly when no one believes her about her concerns for Priya. Logan’s family is also realistically complex and brings further depth to his character and relationship with Zan.
Logan and Zan make a cute pair. I loved Logan’s support for Zan, even if it places him in a precarious position. I also loved Logan’s little sister (possibly more than Logan himself, but shhhh, don’t tell).
If You’re Out There is a fun mystery-thriller, perfect for readers who are looking for something that’s not too dark and is fun and engaging.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Friendship, missing persons, social media, romance, family, LGBT, relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (19), sh** (34), bi*** (5), as***** (1), pi** (2), di** (1). References to drug and alcohol abuse.
Published: 5 March 2019 by Balzer+Bray.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.