Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a...

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Title:Leave No Trace
Author:Mindy Mejia
Rating:

Leave No Trace Reviews

  • Christine

    I loved Ms. Mejia’s last book, Everything You Want Me To Be, so I jumped at the opportunity to land an advanced copy of Leave No Trace. For the most part, I really enjoyed this one as well.

    For me, the start was a little slow. To be fair, I had just read two outstanding books by gifted writers, so anything in follow up was going to suffer a bit. But once I got hooked on the story, I was totally on board.

    Props to Ms. Mejia for the premise, which is nicely outlined in the blurb. This is different,

    I loved Ms. Mejia’s last book, Everything You Want Me To Be, so I jumped at the opportunity to land an advanced copy of Leave No Trace. For the most part, I really enjoyed this one as well.

    For me, the start was a little slow. To be fair, I had just read two outstanding books by gifted writers, so anything in follow up was going to suffer a bit. But once I got hooked on the story, I was totally on board.

    Props to Ms. Mejia for the premise, which is nicely outlined in the blurb. This is different, and different is something I am grateful for when I find it. I loved, loved, loved the setting. The story takes place in Duluth, Minnesota, where I lived for several years back in the 1970s. There are also scenes from “up north” (as the locals would say), including the Boundary Waters, which is an area near and dear to most Minnesotans. Reading a tale in a familiar setting always raises the level of a book for me. However, I do wish that there had been more of the Minnesotan atmosphere—the fog, the sound of the foghorns at night, the majestry of the big lake, the whole sensuality of the beautiful and wondrous northern terrain.

    Ms. Mejia does a terrific job developing our protagonist, speech therapist Maya Stark. Maya, a very likeable character, is carrying some mega baggage and we are with her on her journey to some modicum of peace.

    Some will say the story demonstrates a fair bit of unbelievability. I recognized this as well, but elected to just go with it, allowing myself to enjoy the tale.

    The last 35% of the narrative is full of suspense and intrigue, and is the best part of the book. I did not figure out the ending (always a plus), which was well done.

    In summary, this novel has a lot going for it, but for the reasons stated above, I withheld one star. I continue to be a big fan of Ms. Mejia’s and look forward to her next offering.

    Thank you to Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Net Galley, and Mindy Mejia for an ARC of this novel. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

  • Debra

    3.5 stars

    The Boundary Waters is a wilderness area in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes. Ten years ago, Lucas Blackthorn and his father walked away from society and into the Boundary Waters and were never seen again. That is until Lucas was found while breaking into an outfitters store. Lucas appears to be non-communicative and is placed in a psychiatric hospital for treatment and observation.

    Maya Stark is a language therapist who works in the psychiatric facility where Lucas is p

    3.5 stars

    The Boundary Waters is a wilderness area in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes. Ten years ago, Lucas Blackthorn and his father walked away from society and into the Boundary Waters and were never seen again. That is until Lucas was found while breaking into an outfitters store. Lucas appears to be non-communicative and is placed in a psychiatric hospital for treatment and observation.

    Maya Stark is a language therapist who works in the psychiatric facility where Lucas is placed. She has a troubled past - her Mother abandoned her, and as a teen she spent some time in a psychiatric facility herself. She is asked to evaluate Lucas and although he initially refuses to talk about his father or the ten years they were missing, he does form a bond with Maya.

    This book proved to be a fast read for me. There are so many questions at the beginning of this book - why did Maya's mother leave? Why was Maya hospitalized? Where were Lucas and his father for the last ten years? Where is his father now? Why is Lucas not talking? etc. There are some twists and turns along the way, with a few revelations to keep things interesting and the characters and readers wondering what is going to happen (or be revealed) next.

    As Maya connects to Lucas, she tries to find the answers to the above questions but finds that sometimes knowing all the answers comes with a price. I will admit, I am still not sure how I feel about the ending of this book. I did take some issue with the transference in this book. Anyone who has ever worked in the Mental Health field can tell you about the dangers of transference. True, she was not a Mental Health worker, but she did work in a psychiatric facility and the rules do apply. I also saw a lot of red flags regarding moral, ethical and legal issues concerning her behavior. But I was happy to see some of those addressed in the end of this book.

    So, the ending, everyone gets answers but there is the one thing that did not sit right with me. I would be giving away spoilers if I say why, I am interested if anyone feels the same way. I will say I enjoyed this book right up until the end, then it went a little downhill for me.

    Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Read more of my reviews at

  • Diane S ☔

    3. 5 A young man, now ninteen, missing with his father, since he was ten, comes out of the wild, and placed in a mental institution. Maya, a young speech therapist, once a patient herself after the loss of her mother, is assigned his case. He refused to speak, but seems to have a natural connection to Maya.

    The boundary Waters, this natural, wild, beautiful place was the draw here. A place wonderfully described and Ely, where my son and his family spend a few weeks every summer. The question here

    3. 5 A young man, now ninteen, missing with his father, since he was ten, comes out of the wild, and placed in a mental institution. Maya, a young speech therapist, once a patient herself after the loss of her mother, is assigned his case. He refused to speak, but seems to have a natural connection to Maya.

    The boundary Waters, this natural, wild, beautiful place was the draw here. A place wonderfully described and Ely, where my son and his family spend a few weeks every summer. The question here is where Lucas's father is and why they left to live within this largely untouched place. Maya, is natural, fresh, a young woman with intense feelings that she follows with little doubt. The suspense builds as the story goes on, twists and turns are expertly placed.

    It also shows the care and recovery in a mental health center, how being so different causes media to come out of the woodwork. I also sppreciated the inclusion of real people, who for various reasons, have lived their lives off the grid.

    ARC from Edelweiss and Atria.

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars here.

    Ten years ago Josiah Blackthorn took his nine-year-old son Lucas camping in the Boundary Waters, an area of northern Minnesota full of forests and ice-cold lakes. One day it appeared their campsite was ravaged by bears or other creatures, and the two were never heard from again. Once media interest died down, the Blackthorns were all but forgotten.

    Until a night 10 years later, when now-19-year-old Lucas Blackthorn was apprehended trying to rob an outfitter store. He became aggress

    4.5 stars here.

    Ten years ago Josiah Blackthorn took his nine-year-old son Lucas camping in the Boundary Waters, an area of northern Minnesota full of forests and ice-cold lakes. One day it appeared their campsite was ravaged by bears or other creatures, and the two were never heard from again. Once media interest died down, the Blackthorns were all but forgotten.

    Until a night 10 years later, when now-19-year-old Lucas Blackthorn was apprehended trying to rob an outfitter store. He became aggressive and violent, and was uncommunicative, so he was sent to the local psychiatric hospital for observation. Both the doctors and law enforcement want to know what happened to Lucas' father, but he refuses to talk—to everyone except Maya Stark, the new, young assistant speech therapist, who seems to engender reactions from the once-lost no-longer-a-boy.

    While at first her interactions with Lucas are mainly keeping him from hurting her and others, Maya begins to build what she belies is a genuine connection with him. She can't explain why he feels like he can trust only her, and she can't quite determine where she crossed the line from acting in a professional capacity to wanting him to be able to find his father, without having to go through law enforcement. She knows he doesn't need speech therapy; what he needs is a protector, an ally, and despite warnings from her supervisor and her father, she's determined to be that ally.

    The thing is, Maya has issues of her own. Her mother abandoned their family when she was a teenager, and she's spent a number of years blaming herself, as if she wasn't enough or right for her mother. And that's not the only secret Maya is hiding.

    "What lies beneath us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

    Will Maya do the right thing, if she can figure out what that is? Will her single-minded determination to help Lucas put her in danger? Will helping him get her the answers she has been seeking to her own questions, or will her decisions end in disaster?

    In

    , Mindy Mejia has given us a taut, compelling exploration of the pull of family and the need to be understood. I devoured this book, and while there were certain twists I expected, she threw in some surprises here and there. I found these characters fascinating and even a little unique, and while certainly I questioned Maya's judgment, I could see how past events in her life could lead her to make the choices she did.

    Sure, not everything in this book is realistic. But you could see why the characters were compelled to do what they did, and how certain events unfolded. The coincidences and other things didn't bother me. I was hooked from start to finish.

    I really enjoyed Mejia's last book,

    (

    ), and with

    she proves she's capable of something completely different. She's definitely an author I'll continue to watch with great anticipation, because no matter the genre, she's immensely talented!

    NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

    See all of my reviews at

    , or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

    .

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    I'm 2 for 2 out of the Mindy Mejia books I've read so far, and

    . Her novels are lightning quick and tend to hover just above the line between thought provoking an

    I'm 2 for 2 out of the Mindy Mejia books I've read so far, and

    . Her novels are lightning quick and tend to hover just above the line between thought provoking and taboo. She's unafraid to cross lines that make readers uncomfortable, and yet she does it with impeccable care and the sensitivity needed to keep readers from becoming turned off. It's the old scenario where the characters personal lives are an utter train wreck that we can't help rubbernecking alongside for 300+ pages. The cover does a superb job of setting the tone and vibe of

    , and as you pick it up to begin you can't help but be transported to rural Minnesota in preparation of the wicked journey to come.

    Seasoned psych thriller/domestic drama readers may be able to solve some of the pieces to this puzzle ahead of their reveals, but I found that to only be one portion of what panned out to be an engaging read. I'm not entirely sure whether to put this into the category of plot or character driven; there is a copious amount of character development, as these portions are the foundation building up to the climax of the story, but there were also some tense, action packed scenes as well, a la

    style.

    While you will have to suspend your need for a realistic plot with this one, it was so much fun that I couldn't make myself care about silly facts and all that. I will say that I'm wholly impressed with the amount of research that went into the very real stories (and inspiration for the Blackthorns story) of the Lykovs and the Ho Vans. Mejia did such a fantastic job with these that it has lit a fire in me to search out more information on these brave and solitary families.

    If you enjoyed Mindy's previous novel

    , then I highly recommend you check out

    as well. If you're new to her books, this one is a great place to start, and you can just work your way backwards because trust me, you'll want to read everything she writes.

    <3

  • Meredith

    Lucas Blackthorn was last seen when he was nine years old--he and his father disappeared without a trace. 10 years later, he makes a dramatic reentry into society which results in him being committed to a mental health facility. Maya Stark, a 23-year old speech therapist, is assigned to work with Lucas. After Lucas tries to escape and almost kills Maya in the process, the two form a stro

    Lucas Blackthorn was last seen when he was nine years old--he and his father disappeared without a trace. 10 years later, he makes a dramatic reentry into society which results in him being committed to a mental health facility. Maya Stark, a 23-year old speech therapist, is assigned to work with Lucas. After Lucas tries to escape and almost kills Maya in the process, the two form a strong connection; one that crosses the boundaries between therapist and patient.

    A lot of questions emerge about Maya and Lucas’ pasts:

    Why was Lucas living in the wild? Where is his father? What is Maya hiding?

    The more I read, the more I wanted to know about these characters!

    is fast-paced, jam-packed with twists and turns, and compulsively readable! It was nice to read something with an original plot, and I found it even more appealing when thinking about all of the formulaic, over-the-top thrillers I have been reading lately.

    I also really liked Lucas and Maya’s characters. Maya’s voice sucked me in. She has character, wit, and balls. I couldn’t predict how events were going to play out, but I was rooting for Maya and Lucas! This is not a romance, but the chemistry between Lucas and Maya burns off the pages.

    While I really enjoyed reading this, I did have some issues with the plot. Maya and Lucas's relationship is beyond appropriate, as a lot of moral and ethical lines are crossed. Lucas has a tendency to be violent and this story line made me nervous. I also thought this element could have been explored more deeply. The plot spins out of control and gets a little messy, to the point where had to suspend my disbelief at times.

    I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Atria/Emily Bestler Books in exchange for an honest review.

  • Paromjit

    This is a wonderfully atmospheric psychological mystery from Mindy Melia that grips from beginning to end. It is set in Duluth, Minnesota and the vast wild wilderness of the forests and lakes of Boundary Waters, locations which are evoked beautifully with Melia's rich descriptions. Josiah Blackthorn took his 9 year old son, Lucas, and disappeared into Boundary Waters. Ten years later, a 19 year old Lucas emerges to a storm of media attention when he is caught breaking and entering an outfitters.

    This is a wonderfully atmospheric psychological mystery from Mindy Melia that grips from beginning to end. It is set in Duluth, Minnesota and the vast wild wilderness of the forests and lakes of Boundary Waters, locations which are evoked beautifully with Melia's rich descriptions. Josiah Blackthorn took his 9 year old son, Lucas, and disappeared into Boundary Waters. Ten years later, a 19 year old Lucas emerges to a storm of media attention when he is caught breaking and entering an outfitters. His violence and refusal to communicate has him incarcerated at the Congdon Psychiatric Facility. 23 year old Maya Stark is the newly promoted assistant speech therapist working under Dr Mehta. Maya is a damaged and lonely woman who has never got over her geologist mother leaving her as a child, she is still struggling to make any meaningful connections with another human being, and she herself was once a patient in Congdon. Dr Mehta believes that Maya is the person who can get past Lucas's unco-operative behaviour and muteness, and get him to integrate with others.

    From difficult beginnings, a strong and intense connection begins to form between Lucas and Maya, born of their recognition of each other as kindred souls at the most elemental of levels. Maya researches other examples of people who share a similarity with Lucas's isolated wilderness experiences, such as the Russian Lykov family in Siberia and Ho Vans in Vietnam to help her to understand Lucas better. The police are keen to interview Lucas to find his father but Lucas refuses. He confides only to Maya about his terrors and fears for his sick father in Boundary Waters that led him to leave their remote and isolated home in search of medicine. Lucas's position resonates with Maya, inspiring a strong willed determination to help Lucas, irrespective of ethical and professional issues, with a disregard for keeping her job and all the consequences that might flow from her actions.

    Mejia writes a twisted story of broken families, mental health, emotional damage, love, loss, and the unexpected connections between Lucas and Maya. She does an amazing job in characters and their development, the slow reveals of Lucas and Maya's history, really getting under the skins of them as individuals and giving us psychological portraits of people we cannot fail to be interested in. There are occasions when a little bit of suspension of disbelief is required, but this is, after all, fiction and they never once got in the way of me enjoying this enthralling character and location driven novel. A fantastic read that I recommend highly to others! Many thanks to Quercus for an ARC.

  • Rose (Traveling Sister)

    What a pleasant surprise!

    was another one of those books that I didn’t read too much about before jumping in (especially because it was an ARC, and with those I normally just go off the few existing GR ratings), so I had no idea what to expect.

    Maya Stark is a 23-year-old speech therapist at Congdon, a psychiatric facility making news

    What a pleasant surprise!

    was another one of those books that I didn’t read too much about before jumping in (especially because it was an ARC, and with those I normally just go off the few existing GR ratings), so I had no idea what to expect.

    Maya Stark is a 23-year-old speech therapist at Congdon, a psychiatric facility making news in Duluth, MN because of its newest resident. After over a decade missing, 19-year-old Lucas Blackthorn emerges from the Boundary Waters like a bat out of Hell, causing chaos in his wake. He is hardly fit to handle civilization, much less tolerate the people working to keep him committed. Needless to say, he’s a beautiful firecracker.

    At first, Lucas refuses to communicate with anybody. He was raised in the wilderness, so he’s extremely out of his element in the sterile environment of the psychiatric institution. After a while, he communicates minimally and cryptically with Maya alone; she has a troubled past, so they have more in common than their young age.

    As the book progresses, the focus starts to include Lucas’s father, Josiah (which happens to be my very favorite name, so I had to try not to be biased). He went missing with Lucas all those years ago, and though both were presumed dead, Lucas begins to hint at his father’s possible survival.

    Mejia did a fabulous job with both the pace of the novel and the distribution of focus among her characters. Equal time was spent developing Maya and her home life, Lucas and Josiah’s past, the daunting Minnesota wilderness, and the mysteries that slowly unravel surrounding each. I normally have a hard time getting into e-books, even if I like them, because I find the medium more tedious than physical books. However, I sped through

    A lot of that had to do with Mejia’s technical strength. She took the time to develop rich relationships, letting them steep for just long enough before throwing more action into the mix. It isn’t just about who or where; the nucleus of this novel is about abandonment and the confines we force ourselves to live within, forming a spiritually-layered explanation of why.

    My only qualms with this book didn’t detract much, but I think a lot of people would relate to them. Frankly, I think any author who chooses to write about hospitals – psychiatric or otherwise – is taking a risk and opening themselves up to nitpickers and reality sticklers. While there's nothing too egregious, you might have to suspend a bit of disbelief to get through some of the more tense scenes that take place within the walls of Congdon. Additionally, some of the choices that Maya and her superior, Dr. Mehta, make in Lucas’s treatment are questionable.

    Also, Lucas is presented as being unhinged and violent at the beginning, and this has the potential to be triggering, especially as he and Maya start to become closer. While I understand the whole “broken stallion” thing, and his hostility toward the clinical world makes sense in conjunction with his upbringing, I think the bad boy-ness was taken a bit too far. Lucas would’ve been an intriguing character even if he hadn’t been quite so unglued.

    Thank you to NetGalley and Atria for this ARC.

  • Susanne Strong

    3.5 Stars* (rounded down)

    Maya works as a Licensed Speech Therapist at a facility she knows all too well, one at which she used to be a patient herself. One day, someone new arrives: Lucas Blackthorn. Lucas went missing 10 years ago with his father in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, only to turn up alone, uncommunicative and violent.

    Never has Maya felt more drawn to someone or needed to help someone more then Lucas, who wants to go back to the Boundary Waters to find his father, hopefully alive. Ma

    3.5 Stars* (rounded down)

    Maya works as a Licensed Speech Therapist at a facility she knows all too well, one at which she used to be a patient herself. One day, someone new arrives: Lucas Blackthorn. Lucas went missing 10 years ago with his father in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, only to turn up alone, uncommunicative and violent.

    Never has Maya felt more drawn to someone or needed to help someone more then Lucas, who wants to go back to the Boundary Waters to find his father, hopefully alive. Maya and Lucas’s commonalities are endless, as is their need for each other and even though she knows it’s wrong - she knows she must help him, no matter the cost to her.

    “Leave No Trace” is an utterly compelling and suspenseful novel that in truth, was a bit hard for me to wrap my arms around. It stretched the realms of believability, ethics and morality and for me, as someone who works in the legal field, were things I simply couldn’t get past. That said, the characters have bite and their attraction is crazy palpable, and I get why others loved the twists and turns and were unconcerned with the unbelievability factor. Though, I called the ending early on, I do think it was very well done. This is the second novel I have read by Mindy Mejia, “Everything You Want Me to Be” being the first. While I liked that book better, what is evident is Ms. Mejia’s strong suit - which is her ability to create crazy suspense and her character development. She immediately draws you in with her characters and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

    Thank you to NetGalley, Atria and Mindy Mejia for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

    Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 9.26.18.

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