Follow Me Down: Sherri Smith
Mia Haas and her mother Mimi might seem like polar opposites but when you get deep inside both of them, hear their voices and their thoughts you will know that they are not quite as different as you might think. Mia finds herself working in pharmaceuticals and we learn of her addiction to the products that she handles for her patients. Working in a hospital she takes advantage of the position and finds ways to palm meds for herself. But, hospitals have controls, they have cameras and keep logs and when she questions Mia superior she is let go. Finally getting a job working in a pharmacy is she still doing the same thing? Creating a life as far away from her mother and North Dakota she finds herself called back when she receives a phone call concerning her brother Lucas. From what she is told he is involved or might be involved in the death of one of his students named Joanna. Mia finds it hard to believe that he would do something so horrific and when questioned by the Detective in charge she gets the feeling that he is
not going to look any further and demands that she finds a way to contact him to come home and face what he might have done. But, Mia befriends his assistant named Garrett and hopes that because he is handsome and she can flirt with him that he will share information with her. But, first and foremost he is a police officer and his job is to grill her for information.
The author then focuses on her relationship with her mother Mimi and we hear the harsh words used by her mother when putting her down and making her feel inadequate and unworthy. Her mother even went after a young teen claiming that she was prettier than her daughter and she had to stop trying to compete with her. Mimi is an alcoholic and pill popper and as Mia was clean for a while as a result of hunting for her brother and investigating on her own, she takes out her makeup case and uses and takes anything that falls into her hands. So, why criticize her mother when she is drowning her sorrows the same way.
Joanna is pulled from the river and Mia even goes to the scene to learn more and what she sees is horrific. As she investigates and lives in his apartment, which is anything but habitable, she uncovers something that will change it all for her when Joanna’s journal falls into her hands and one other thing is present. Did he do it or was it her ex-boyfriend Dylan?
Every step of the way Mia seems to be facing obstacles and many who would accuse her brother of killing this young girl but carrying on her own investigation, finding a cell phone that belonged to one of the players on the hockey team leads her to believe that someone is covering something up but who and why? Cody Jackson is one of the players Lucas kicked off the team because of the pornographic pictures he and several others were taking of young girls and getting money for them. Wyatt his close friend knows more than he’s letting on and really could care less about Lucas but just wants to be head coach of the team and get these players back. Finding herself talking to Detective Pruden and Garrett again they seem bent on the fact that she is holding back something and think she really knows where Lucas is hiding out. But, no matter where she looks and how long she seems to be falling prey to the same habits her mother has that of popping pills, tranquilizers, drinking and anything that will make her forget the present and create her own haze to the past. Mia seems bent on finding out who killed Joanna but even with some evidence that points away from Lucas no one wants to help her and drinking and popping pills just might cloud her vision.
Conducting her own investigation brings her into the limelight with the police as she reads Joanna’s journal, keeps what she learns to herself as the reader finds out what Joanna’s relationship was really with her mother Kathy. Owning the dance studio and placing her daughter in the limelight brought tons of resentment among the other students but when you read the underlying words and hear this young girl’s voice you realize that she was a victim of abuse, tirades and a mother who expected her to be perfect in a way that she herself was not. Food, exercise, friends and planning her life not allowing her to make her own choices in life. But, the hidden secrets kept and what Mia thought she learned as she approaches Kathy with her accusations leads to a confrontation that might cost her more than just her brother’s freedom. Why does Pruden think he is still guilty? What happens when she learns the harsh reality about his relationship with Joanna? When she speaks to Abby her best friend and Jenny what she learns will take her on a totally different direction but there is more. What about Madison her sister and Bailey who she has to hide in her brother’s apartment when Bailey overdoses with pills hoping Mia can find something to make her better. But, Mia is not much better and finds herself popping more pills, taking a prescription pad and more when she breaks into a doctor’s office hoping to get Joanna’s file and learn another hidden truth. Lies, secrets, hate, revenge, deceptions and deceits are part of the personalities of most of the people in this small town in North Dakota. Yet, where is Lucas and why does she accused Kathy Wilkes of killing her daughter and hiding Lucas? At times her thinking is clouded by the drugs, blind rage and frustration as she refuses to heed the warnings of the police as the author enlightens readers to what happens when teens go astray, some get money for selling drugs, some sell secrets that they are entrusted with and no one seems to walk the straight and narrow. Eric is the guidance counselor that listens to the teens and what role does he play and how will Mia feel since she is involved with him? Speaking to another friend Zoey she gets still another perspective on the situation and who Joanna really was but just who wanted her out of the way and why? Where is Lucas all of this time?
Talking someone named Carl who worked for the Wilkes family we learn that he was injured and that the family is thought to be evil. Added in Ben Wilkes seems to be following Mia and has pushed her off the road several times and Carl too. Plus someone named Tom stated that Lucas owes him money for gambling and the interest if 100 dollars a day and he expects Mia to pay up. There are obstacles and dangers from many different sides.
When all of the pieces come together the end result will shock readers as to who really killed Joanna and why? Getting to know her you the reader will decide whether she deserved her fate and the type of killing and what was done to her possibly for spite. Lies, hate crimes, a town that shows no mercy and characters that are not likeable at all plus lessons for teen readers about drinking and selling weed and other drugs this book is surely one that many counselors and rehab centers can use as a resource for young adults that need help.
Speaking to Eric thinks spiral out of control and the reader understands that sometimes not every educator sadly has the best intentions of his/her students in mind. Added in Kathy Wilkes programmed Joanna but she undid whatever she wanted and the end result is shocking.
Just when Mia thought nothing else could happen the real killers trap her and the end result is pure hatred and revenge. Added in she visits someone she never thought she would meet and more lies and truths come out as the pieces fit together, the killer might be caught but in the end will Mia finally give up the pills, stop drinking, embrace her life and find some type of solace other than popping pills? Will she and her mother ever come to terms and have some relationship but first you won’t believe Mimi’s secret and will Lucas be found? An ending that the author created that allows readers to wonder what Mia will do with her life and whether she will move forward or remain the same. Author Sherri Smith leaves a lot of unanswered questions as Joanna Wilkes left clues and lives will never remain the same and two mothers have to come to terms with their fears and insecurities and more. When the road goes down and the incline reverses will Mia ask how many of you will FOLLOW ME DOWN! But WHERE?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine