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Charlie, Presumed Dead Hardcover – June 2, 2015
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Anne Heltzel
The author of the twisty thriller Charlie, Presumed Dead delves into the dark side of romantic relationships, the heartbreak of deception, and the fun of writing for crazy.
Aubrey and Lena learn they are both dating the same guy. Were you ever deceived by a boy growing up?
I did have a bad boyfriend experience that led to the development of the initial concept for the novel. This guy and I had been each other’s first loves and had had a long, drawn out romance; so it was a relief when I could finally close that door forever! It was amazing to me that anyone could be so dishonest, particularly in the context of such a long and complex romance.
The girls team up on a journey to uncover Charlie’s lies. How important is location to this novel?
Very! Although my dating experience informed Charlie’s character, the story was really built around my desire to re-explore all the places I’ve lived in or traveled to. I felt expanding the mystery into an international adventure opened the door for further possibilities within the plot. The people the girls meet adhere to different social/cultural norms. Widening the girls’ worlds allowed for Charlie to disappear more easily. These factors were essential to developing the plot. The cliffhanger ending (particularly with respect to Aubrey) couldn’t have happened if the book had been set in the U.S.
What were the biggest challenges and rewards writing in three different characters’ points of view?
It was really hard to distinguish between Lena and Aubrey’s voices. The two are sort of mirrors of one another — different sides to one personality. (Especially since the have a lot of latent personality traits that emerge along their journey.) They possess complementary qualities and could be a “perfect” pair, if they allow themselves to be. I wanted them to come together the way Charlie should have come together with one of them. They find with each other what they lacked with Charlie (minus the romance). But anyway—because I saw them as a unit, it was tough to break out their voices as distinct and separate.
Did you have a favorite character to write for?
Charlie! Maybe because I got to write Charlie so seldom, and his voice was so different from the other two. Charlie was a lot of fun to write. He’s such a weirdo. I’ve been told I write “crazy” well. That’s maybe a little disturbing to hear; but really I think it’s because it’s a no-holds-barred situation. Charlie got to reinvent himself each time he formed a new relationship or traveled somewhere new. In a sense, this is a fantasy for everyone. I loved creating new personas for him and eventually touching on his mental fragility.
Aubrey and Lena end up forming an unlikely bond, but can these two really trust each other?
I don’t think they really start developing outward-facing perspectives until the last couple of chapters, when they realize that despite themselves, they’ve developed an affection and respect for one another. They initially see each other as adversaries; but once they’re sick of everything to do with Charlie, they’re able to more clearly see one another as individuals separate from the situation. They realize that in another context, they’d like each other. So they choose to trust. And once you make that choice, I think you naturally become trustworthy yourself. You become less guarded and as a result it’s harder to guard.
What do you hope readers take away from Charlie, Presumed Dead?
I hope they see it as an entertaining read, and I hope that it’s empowering to some degree. I love the idea of friendship—a very positive relationship—emerging from something that could simply have been horribly damaging. Perhaps some readers will take from it that they should be careful with their hearts, trust their guts, and avoid letting a romantic relationship define them. I wanted Lena and Aubrey to realize, by the end of the book, that their lives are so much richer than what exists on the page (i.e. their hunt for Charlie and everything that ties into it). That’s a good takeaway, and there are also the themes of finding strength, setting boundaries, and achieving closure.
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Presumed dead in an explosion, Charlie Price is being mourned at his funeral in Paris, which is attended by friends and family. Charlie's death is a tragedy—he was young, charming, and full of life. A world traveler, he was also something of a playboy; both Audrey and Lena loved Charlie and thought that they were the only women in his life. When they meet at the funeral, it sets them off on a whirlwind journey around the globe, where they must confront the questions that come up time and time again: did they really know Charlie? Did anyone? And is Charlie, presumed dead, actually gone for good? Travel descriptions and fast-paced writing sprinkled with intrigue and horror spin this story forward at an enjoyable pace. Teen suspense fans will be satisfied with the Gone Girl-esque feeling of the work. The first in a series, the ending may leave some tearing at their hair, but the promise of more books will keep many readers salivating. VERDICT Recommended as a primary purchase.—Clair Segal, LREI, New York City
—Entertainment Weekly’s 10 Great Thrillers for Your Beach Reading List
“A trippy, globetrotting mysterious adventure, this is a twisty and fun read.”
—RT Book Reviews
“Like Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, the characters are not who they seem; like We Were Liars, the truth is masked by delusion.”
“A compelling read, one that will provoke adventure-lust, a need to experience the strange, the fearful, and the unknown.”
“A creepy, thrilling tangled web of book. I couldn’t put it down. Anne Heltzel has written two bold, complicated young women as they embark on an adventure through Europe and Asia, unraveling the disappearance of their shared boyfriend, Charlie (presumed dead). Their mystery is everybody’s mystery at some point, whether we like it or not: Who is this person I’m dating and what are they hiding?”
—David Iserson, author of Firecracker
“Buckle in tight. Charlie, Presumed Dead is a mystery wrapped in a puzzle strapped in a roller coaster. Full of compelling characters and exotic settings, this dark and twisty thrill ride kept me up late and kept me guessing.”
—Fiona Paul, author of the Eternal Rose trilogy
“So twisty and devious that I couldn’t stop turning the pages, Charlie Presumed Dead is also a story with heart. I was fascinated by the unfolding of an unlikely friendship between two very different young women who become a force to be reckoned with. I loved it.”
—Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Curse
"An edgy thriller that keeps the guesses coming until the last word."
"As the layers of each character's duplicity are carefully revealed, the unearthing of blackmail, revenge, red herrings, and more makes for a thrilling and immersive tale of manipulation as wily as Charlie himself."
"Travel descriptions and fast-paced writing sprinkled with intrigue and horror spin this story forward at an enjoyable pace. Teen suspense fans will be satisfied with the Gone Girl–esque feeling of the work."
—School Library Journal
"Teens shouldn't come here looking for a happy ending or even justice delivered but for a creepy race toward a bone-wracking shudder."
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Top customer reviews
Charlie, Presumed Dead is an intriguing and suspenseful thriller with many psychological elements. On the day of Charlie Price’s memorial service his girlfriends Lena and Aubrey meet for the first time. It’s immediately apparent that Charlie had several lives, several personalities, and more than one girlfriend. While forging a tentative friendship, Lena and Aubrey search through Charlie’s life for clues to the truth. Is Charlie really dead? Or did he create a new life so he could escape the ones he had already ruined. The search for the truth takes the girls from Paris to London, Mumbai, and Bangkok. With Lena’s trust fund and Aubrey’s wits it should be an easy few days poking into Charlie’s past. But with each new country comes conflicting accounts of Charlie and who he really was. To make things more difficult Lena and Aubrey still don’t want to share all their secrets and knowledge about Charlie with each other. Without trust the truth will not be known. I can’t give even a hint about where the ending of this book is headed. It is a slap-you-in-the-face type ending that leaves you reeling and re-reading the last chapter to make sure you didn’t miss anything. I have no idea if there will be more books about Charlie Price but if there are you do not want to miss out.
When I first started reading Charlie, Presumed Dead I was annoyed by the characters’ personalities and their whiny attitudes. At 18 years old, Lena comes off as a spoiled, rich, brat who thinks she’s better than everyone. Aubrey is dark and sheltered to the point where you just want her to stay spineless and retreat back home to the States. As Lena and Aubrey travel the world, however, they grow and evolve into strong women who have each other’s backs and can stand up for themselves. It was a nice change to see them forge a friendship even when everything is trying to put a wedge between them.
Recommendation: This is a great NA book with deep emotions, heart pounding encounters, and a friendship that rises upon the norm. A great read for fans of Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams, We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean, and The Tenderness of Thieves by Donna Freitas.
Most recent customer reviews
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