Olivia’s Journal

Uncover by Amanda Linehan is a novella (140 pages) about a group of five entitled rich high school seniors plus the younger sister of one of them which meets life and death differently. The reader will not meet Olivia, one of the seniors. She dies in a traffic accident at the beginning of the story. The five remaining characters embark on a mission and reflect on life with and without Olivia while they contemplate their relationships with each other in the group.

Jordan, the younger sister of Olivia, does not accept that Olivia’s death was the result of a traffic accident. It could have been suicide. The person who fled the scene of the accident hasn’t been found. Of the two witnesses; one said it was an accident, one said it could have been suicide. Jordan knew that her sister went to an isolated State Park location not popular with the public. While there she wrote a journal and would sometimes leave the journal somewhere hidden in the park. Jordan wants Marissa, Jay, Peter, and Aaron to join her in a search for the journal. Jordan has been to the area and knows the landmarks that will take them to the area frequented by Olivia.

The group goes to the area in the late afternoon. They will search the area quickly and return home before nightfall. That was the plan. There was no plan B. The group informed no one where they were going. They took no special equipment for the search. Three of the five didn’t carry their cell phones. The search was a failure; there was no journal. It was getting dark and the group began the return to their cars. Due to inadequate orienteering skills, they didn’t make it. They were lost in the woods at night and were completely unequipped for their stay. Movement at night was impossible; they would not be able to identify landmarks. The group stopped and decided to wait for daylight. Then the animals came. That is what Marissa thought as she began running and became separated from the group. Although it was lucky that Aaron found her, there were now two groups of lost people that could not communicate with each other. And the woods had some very strange animals.

This is primarily a novella about relationships that survive and fail under different types of stress. There is the stress from loss of a group member, Olivia. There is the stress of being lost in the woods. Who among them was the leader and knowledgeable person who had failed to lead them out of the woods? There is the stress of former good and trusting relationships turned bad due to jealousy. At least one of the characters will grow in terms of self-realization and maturity.

Linehan writes of human nature as well as physical outdoor nature. She writes descriptively about nature and character growth gained through reflection about nature. This is not a story with bells-and-whistles surprises (except for a couple) but it is a story that should make readers happy as it affirms desirable values. I have read several of Linehan’s short stories and will look for more. Her novels are a break from the more sensationalist crime and horror novels I usually read. I gave this four Amazon stars and recommend it to readers who are looking for stories that will not offend them in any way.

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