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Cover image from goodreads.com

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

(Story synopsis from book jacket)

Amazingly the only way that I discovered this book was through one of my students in my 8th hour World Lit class. This student of mine is an avid reader and she and I have frequently had conversations about books that we have each recently read. She will also come to me for recommendations on what books she should read next. 

A few months ago this student had told me about the book Don’t Look Back and had even written the title and author down on a post-it note for me. Since then I have been really busy and didn’t really have much time for reading. Today however, she and I were discussing books once again as my students were working on their response papers. She asked if I’d had a chance to read the book she had told me about. I admitted to her that I had not yet had the opportunity, but as luck would have it…she had Don’t Look Back with her in her backpack today. She asked me if I wanted to borrow it and I said I would love to, and that I would now have a book to read over Spring Break.

However, it turns out that I will not be reading this book over Spring Break. Nope. Instead, I started reading the first few pages at the end of class and once I got home from track practice I continued reading… In fact, I continued reading for so long that I have actually already finished Don’t Look Back. I must give this student of mine huge props for recommending a book to me that I simply could not put down.

Don’t Look Back is a great YA mystery that will keep the reader guessing about what really happened to Samantha and why she can’t seem to remember anything. Sam is a teenager, but she has created a life for herself that makes name-calling and teasing seem like child’s play to anyone else. Samantha and her best friend, Cassie, were essentially terrors of their high school…but because of their money, parents and looks, they ruled the school with an iron fist; a fist that no one was going to question.

Until someone did. At the beginning of the novel, Samantha turns up outside of a local state park, bruised and dirty and with absolutely no recollection of who she is (or was). Throughout the book Sam is trying to figure out what happened to her and her friend Cassie on the night that they both disappeared, but it seems that someone does not want Samantha to remember what happened. We follow Sam through this journey of trying to rediscover herself and learn about the life she had created (one that she begins to hate the more she learns about it), and we see the struggle that she has with her own self as the memories start to return in small pieces.

Jennifer L. Armentrout really keeps the reader guessing as to what really happened to Sam and Cassie. Armentrout has created a very suspenseful story that any reader can relate to with the struggle of self identity and have a solid support system around you. Don’ Look Back makes you question whether all of your memories should be remembered…