Glowing satisfaction. That is the feeling that I was left with, as I closed the cover on Leaving Unknown. Just from looking at the cover, I knew this was going to be a fun read, however, I had no idea just how much fun was in store. Mix that laugh-out-loud fun with real emotion, life changing events and the quest to "find" oneself and you have one heck of a story on your hands. That is exactly what author Kerry Reichs manages to put together in this superb novel, that is sure to leave the name "Kerry Reichs" as anything but unknown.
In Leaving Unknown, we are immediately introduced to main character Maeve Connelly, however that introduction is just the tip of the iceberg. In the the beginning, Maeve reminded me a lot of Becky from the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. She had the same "toss your cares to the wind" type of attitude, as well as a bit of the financial issues, lol. However, as the story progresses, readers are gifted with getting to know Maeve, on a much deeper level. I, for one, adored Maeve, her sassiness, spunk, bravery and her exceptional intelligence and ingenuity are true characteristics that pull the reader in, as much as they pull in the people that Maeve comes into contact with throughout the story.
Leaving her home in Charlotte, to travel to Los Angeles to begin a whole new life, Maeve decides to road trip through the most unique named towns that she can find. Among these are Sweet Lips, Tennessee, Toad Suck, Arkansas and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It is when she gets to Unknown, Arizona that Maeve's beloved 1970 Plymouth Road Runner, Elsie, breaks down and needs a massive amount of tweaking. Unfortunately, the only mechanic around is gone on a trip and no ones knows when his return may be. This leaves Maeve and her sidekick, Oliver, her not-so-shy cockatiel, stranded. It doesn't take long for the kind-hearted and slightly eccentric folks of Unknown to take Maeve into their fold, as well as wrapping themselves around Maeve's heart. One particular citizen, bookstore owner and novelist, Noah, places an amazingly strong anchor around Maeve's heart and mind. Only one problem, Noah is taken.
After residing, for a few months, in Unknown, making incredible friends and finding an undiscovered voice, through photography, Elsie is mended and it is time for Maeve to leave and finish her journey to California. With a heart, not as light as it was in the beginning of her trip, Mauve continues on, finding herself in sunny California with a friend from long ago. However, all the promised glitz and glamor are anything but and Maeve's heart aches for the friends she made in Unknown. Will she be able to swallow the lump and settle her ache for Noah and be able to return to the warm fold of Unknown, or will she remain strong in her original plan and remain in California? No matter how hard we plan, there is always a detour that pops up in the road of life.
I think that many readers can easily find something of Maeve within themselves. The insecurities, that feeling of being unsettled and not knowing who you are or where to go, the ability to dig deep within and discover the unyielding strength and wondrousness that makes each of us special and unique. My love for this book is one that has placed it as one of my favorites for 2010 and my desire to read more by this author is incredible. The transformation that Kerry Reichs takes the reader on with Maeve is amazing and so very human. Little things that seem so trivial and silly, in the beginning of the story, take on an entirely new meaning, as readers travel deeper within the story and deeper within Maeve. Other characters within the story, such as Noah, Tuesday, Bruce, Ruby, Samuel, April and Busy are ones that are an added delight. The author's ability to bring each and every person to life within the pages of this story is fantastic. Also, as an added bit of fun, there is a children's story, fully illustrated, within the story of Leaving Unknown (keep in mind, this is only a few pages long and completely ties in with the story itself) written by Noah for Maeve. I loved this little story as much as I did the novel itself!
Leaving Unknown is a story that will have the reader laughing out loud, giggling, sighing, rejoicing, celebrating and so many emotions in-between. Honestly, this story was a pure delight and one that had me thinking about the characters, when I wasn't even reading. I highly recommend Leaving Unknown to anyone looking for a delicious story that will remain within your heart and mind, long after the final word has been read. Kerry Reichs is an amazing talent and I eagerly await her next release!