Whatever It Takes – Right Where You Left Me (Review)

Last year, we loved Tell Me Something Real and enjoyed visiting with Calla when she launched here. When we learned she was writing a book set in San Francisco, we knew we had to read it!

“I’ll be here,” I say. “Right where you left me.” He kisses my cheek. I tell him I love him.

Calla Devlin shall hereby be crowned as queen of writing family dynamics. Right Where You Left Me is a stunning follow up after Tell Me Something Real and is a treat for fans of Jeff Zentner and Jandy Nelson.

This is one of those rare books where the plot and characters play an equal role in why I loved it so my. Generally I am a character driven reader but Calla manages to make me care about what’s going on around them as much as I do the people. Charlotte, our main character, is so tangible that I felt I could see her in the pages. 

Charlotte’s dad is a journalist and heads into dangerous territory to cover stories. This time he’s in the Ukraine, where he doesn’t come right back from. Charlotte and her father are very close, a polar dynamic from her mother and relationships with many of her peers. But we all know experiences change people and their support networks. This book is less about rescuing her father and more about rescuing Charlotte from the rocky relationships she has. 

Why do terrible and wonderful things occur at the same time?

Given the context and severity of her father’s capture, Right Where You Left Me has the potential to be absolutely heartbreaking. I won’t share the ending but the one thing I can say is that Charlotte’s journey through the book makes it worth the journey of losing her father. There’s certainly some adventure in the story, given that Charlotte goes on her own search to figure out where her father is, both helping and muddying the investigation (but someone has to get stuff done!). You know it’s not safe but you can’t help but cheer for her. 

Calla Devlin has created a fan of me and I can’t wait to see what comes next!


by Calla Devlin
Published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher
Find It

After Charlotte’s father is kidnapped, she and her mother must overcome their differences and find a way to rescue him in this eloquent, moving portrayal of family from the author of William C. Morris Award finalist TellMe Something Real.

In search of the perfect story to put a human face on a tragedy for his newspaper, my dad will fly into the eye of the storm. And now he’s heading to Ukraine, straight into the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. I don’t want him to leave. I don’t want to spend the week alone in a silent house with my mother, whose classically Russian reserve has built a wall between us that neither of us knows how to tear down. But I don’t tell him this. I don’t say stay.

I think I’m holding it together okay—until the FBI comes knocking on our door. Now it’s all I can do to fight off the horrifying images in my head. The quake has left so many orphans and widows, but Mom and I refuse to be counted among them. Whatever it takes to get Dad back, I’ll do it. Even if it means breaking a promise…or the law.


Calla Devlin is the author of William C. Morris Award finalist Tell Me Something Real. She’s also a Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award whose stories have been included in numerous literary journals and in anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine. Visit her at CallaDevlin.com.

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