In Sonja Yoerg’s novel The Middle of Somewhere, Liz Kroft is about to turn thirty, but for someone so young, she has a lot of emotional baggage she needs to work through. The opportunity presents itself when she decides to take a solitary hike on the John Muir Trail in the Yosemite Valley. When her boyfriend Dante joins her, though, her plans change, and the secrets she carries become an unpleasant weight for her. Throughout their journey, they encounter a host of different characters: an actor who is unwillingly making the hike for a movie role; a devoted older couple who found love the second time around; and a pair of sinister brothers, both professional outdoorsmen, who have their own secrets to hide as well.
As Liz and Dante hike deeper into the mountains, Liz begins to understand that she must tell Dante all of the secrets she has been hiding. Dante, who prides himself on his strong Catholic morals, is shocked by each of her confessions. But soon one of the people they have been hiking with turns up dead, Liz and Dante discover that the brothers are playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with them. Even though Liz’s secrets have put a rift in her relationship with Dante, they must stay together so that they can make it off of the trail alive.
Throughout the novel, we catch glimpses of Liz’s life before the hike. We learn that she is the daughter of a single mother and an estranged father who grew up as an only child, and that her curiosity about technology leads her to a career in engineering. We see her meet her college sweetheart and marry him right after graduation, only for their marriage to slowly begin to unravel and abruptly end with her husband’s untimely death in a car accident. And we discover the most painful secret that Liz is keeping from Dante: that she did not inform him of her unplanned pregnancy and her decision to undergo an abortion rather than to tell him.
The Middle of Somewhere combines the past and present narratives of Liz’s life all so that the reader will eventually see how they might affect her future, whatever it may hold. As Liz and Dante face the uncertainty of what will happen to their relationship once they have finished with their hike, they also must make moment-by-moment decisions when it comes to how to evade their pursuers. I kept flipping the pages with my heart in my throat to see whether or not Liz and Dante would get off of that mountain before their pursuers got to them. Liz, so accustomed to being on her own, has pushed Dante and everyone else in her life away, and she and Dante are forced to depend on each other to escape their situation.
I received a free advanced copy from First to Read in exchange for my fair and honest review.