Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht, review by Shirley Wells
The relationships between sixteen-year-old Livy Marko, her best friend Nelson, and their contrasting parents—hers are too lax; his are too strict—are forever altered when the bored teens become caught up in a robbery and kidnapping that go awry. The dying rust-belt town of Lomath, Pennsylvania, is road-blocked and its electricity cut off while the FBI conducts a house-by-house search for an international criminal who is believed to be hiding nearby. As the town lockdown continues, paranoia grows, long-hidden secrets are revealed, and Livy and Nelson learn that even unintentional actions can have irreparable consequences. “She often thought now about the power everybody had to ruin everybody else. You could do it by accident, just by showing up, or you could make the wrong decisions in such small pieces that by the time you realized what you were doing, it was too late.”
This suspenseful microcosm of teenage ennui and isolation surprises the reader with a fresh premise and likeable characters—an impressive debut of literary fiction with a strong YA crossover.