Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.
Now, six months later, on a youth group
retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to
answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps
coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an
outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of
her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she
doesn’t know who to trust.
On a group hike, the incessant
bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s
former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the
situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have
no choice but to band together.
With past betrayals and
harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach
safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close
the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far
to come back?
I read this book in a span of under 24 hours. I started it planning on only reading a little the first day, and I ended up reading about half of it in one day, and then the only reason I stopped reading it was because it was 1:30 AM, and I was really tired at that point and needed to go to sleep. Then I finished it the next day when I woke up. I loved these characters and rooted for them to be okay. The trials they face in the woods in this book are harrowing, and they face emotional struggles and faith struggles, as well as the physical struggles.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
Hallie is facing a lot of emotional pain at the beginning of this book, after an incident that happened the year before with the pastor's son, Luke. I won't go into detail about what the incident was, since that isn't fully revealed until later in the book, and I don't want to spoil it. I will say that Luke is a jerk. He made it so all the people from her youth group turned against her and teased her and bullied her. One of his friends who had also been close with Hallie before, now refuses to talk to Hallie after the incident. Hallie experiences so much character growth throughout this book. She learns to speak up for herself and let people know the truth instead of letting them believe what they want to believe. She learns how to survive in the wilderness. And she also experiences a bit of a faith journey as she struggles to know whether God is with her while she is lost in the woods.
I really liked Rachel's character. She was the first person on the youth group retreat who is nice to Hallie. She really makes an effort and Hallie is a bit harsh to her, but luckily she doesn't back down from trying to be Hallie's friend. Rachel does make mistakes, especially deciding to leave the group in the first place, but it doesn't make me care about her character any less. She didn't expect that they would get into this situation. There are parts of this story that really make me worry about her character, especially with the hypothermia. I hope that she and Hallie stay friends with each other after the timeline of when the book ends, since they seem good for each other.
Jonah is the third character who ends up lost with them in the woods. He used to be good friends with Hallie, and it's clear that he probably likes her as more than a friend from near the beginning. There is the issue of him not talking to Hallie after the incident with Luke, and the reasons for this aren't revealed until later than the story. I like his character. He seems like he really is a good guy, and he works hard to keep them alive in the woods, by learning how to build fires, and finding them food to eat when their supplies begin to run low.
If you like YA contemporary and survival stories, read this book.