Nora and Charlotte were best friends when they were younger; they lived on the same street, and they both adored the pretty teen who babysat them after school. Rose was one to be adored though - everyone seemed to like her - and she indulged the girls' fascination with the old Time-Life Books on the paranormal that Charlotte had. One day, everything changed. Rose walked Nora home as usual, but never made it home herself. She disappeared.
Nearly sixteen years later, Rose's remains are found. Charlotte is obsessed with finding out what happened to Rose, and contacts Nora again to help her. Charlotte and Nora have been estranged for quite some time now, and even though Nora answers her call - she is uneasy from the start. Nora is known as "the last person to see Rose alive", though she doesn't remember seeing or hearing anything unusual that day.... or is she just blocking it out? There are more secrets in their collective past than Nora realized.... are they prepared to discover them all? What really happened to Rose?
The book is foremost a mystery, but not like any mystery I've read before.... and I really enjoyed this format. I think the difference for me was that there was no immediate mortal danger for the main characters - the danger is instead old truths being discovered about Rose, and about themselves. The story is told from Nora's point of view, and alternates within the chapter between the present and the past. She explores what it is like to revisit your childhood home - something I am very familiar with. The author has captured that sort of out-of-body experience perfectly, where you expect the people and places to be exactly the way you left them, even though it is impossible. Nora must also face the issues she didn't deal with well in her childhood and adolescence... she must face the reasons why she did the things she did; why she didn't say the things she should have. She has difficulty trusting people, most of all Charlotte, and with good reason. Their dynamic is intriguing... the power vs. the mystery.
I was hooked into this book from the very first page. The book opens with a quote from the old Time-Life book commercials for their paranormal series of books. I remember these commercials vividly and fondly. I coveted these books. I wanted them so badly! I knew that I would never actually get them myself, so I watched all the 30 minute infomercials I could. Reading this book with it's description of these books makes me still want them a little. The first day I opened this book, I read 70 pages and I knew instantly that this was going to be good (even beyond the Time-Life Book mentions). The second day I opened this book, I read all remaining 300 pages. I was completely captivated. The tenuous friendship between these girls, the secondary characters, even the setting grabbed me. As the mystery unfolded and secret after secret discovered - I just couldn't get enough. The final truth, and how it is discovered still surprised and amazed me... and the ultimate conclusion is completely satisfying. This is a book that I know I won't be able to stop talking about.
In Search of the Rose Notes
by Emily Arsenault
William Morrow, 2011
Source: TLC Book Tours
Author's Website: HERE
Also available from The Book Depository