Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Book Review: Squared Away

By Sara Steven

Almost two years after she left the army, and her best friend Concepcion Chapa, Joelle McCoy receives a cryptic voicemail from an Iraqi contact looking for Concepcion. When Joelle can’t reach her “battle buddy,” she’s told Concepcion died in a car accident, while working for the FBI

But Joelle has questions and those questions launch her into the arms of an FBI agent—one of Concepcion’s former colleagues—and a search for her friend that will bring her from small-town Missouri, to Miami, and then on to Kosovo.

Over the course of a year, Joelle will search for her friend, with the help of Concepcion’s former FBI colleagues, and try to come to terms with what their battle-tested friendship really means in her life. And why Concepcion would disappear without so much as a goodbye. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I appreciated the air of mystery that surrounds Squared Away. From the beginning, we’re informed that one of Joelle’s closest friends has died, but Joelle doesn’t believe it. Many things don’t sit right or add up, cleverly showcased within the pages. But just when I thought that Joelle was onto something, other characters would provide additional information that had me guessing for most of the book. Was Concepcion still alive?

This felt like a military Nancy Drew read, particularly when Joelle goes on her quest for the truth. Even through the fear and immense pressures from others who are in the military or FBI, she continues to propel herself forward, and we get to see just how tough Joelle is. The memories she shares about her friend shows us an even tougher woman in Concepcion, one who does what she wants and does not feel the need to apologize for it. There was also a lot of great background information that lends into the friendship the women have, why it’s so important, and the potential cracks and crevices that makes finding the truth the number one priority.

While there is a paralleling story of romance for Joelle and the FBI agent- I felt the real relationship here had been the one she had with Concepcion all along. The strong bonds of friendship that can never be broken, even potentially through death. There was an honest desperation in her search for her friend, taking her clear across the world, even- all in the name of love. Those types of sisterly friendships are hard to come by, which made it all the more interesting.

My only complaint would be the ending. It felt a little rushed, at times buttoned up, and finished a bit abruptly. I would have liked to see the ending expanded on a bit more, so we could feel some real closure for Joelle. But aside from that, I enjoyed Joelle’s story, and wanted to discover for myself what had happened to someone who had meant so much to so many. A great mystery!

Thanks to Mindbuck Media for the book in exchange for an honest review.

No comments: