Book Review: You Beleivers – Jane Bradley

From the back cover:

You Believers is a powerful, cathartic story of casual evil and of how the worst things can be faced so that we might not only survive, but grow. A young woman goes missing, and her mother uproots her life to find her daughter. But it is not just the heartbreak or the deep mystery of the hunt for lost loved ones that Bradley so convincingly explores. Rather, with the help of an amazingly dedicated searcher, family and friends somehow learn to move past unspeakable horror and celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit. Offering a vision that is at once ruthless and utterly compassionate, Bradley renders the search for logic, meaning, redemption and even hope in the domino force that is human nature. Part Southern gothic, part crime, part haunting suspense story, You Believers takes us on an infinitely harrowing journey that rewards the reader with insight into how we might endure horrible events with faith, strength, and grace even while it reveals the ripple effects of random violence.

Book cover: You Believers by Jane BradleyThe book starts with Shelby Waters, a Southern girl from the small town of Suck Creek, recounting how she got her calling to become a searcher. It was because of her sister Darly, who got away from Suck Creek to become a nurse and get married and settle down. Then one day, she went missing. The rescuers found her bones in the woods, her head at one place, her body at another. This isn’t Darly’s story, though. This is the story of Katy Connor, the 30-year old woman who went missing a few weeks before her wedding. It’s the story of a mother’s pain, a fiance’s sorrow and a sociopath’s need to cause pain.

It’s classic, almost. Like the story of Persephone picking flowers in a field one spring afternoon. The earth opens. Hades comes roaring up in his chariot, black horses digging up dirt with their hooves, hot breath swirling from flared nostrils. With a quick swoop of thick, muscled arm, Hades snatches the girl, drags her down to the underworld. You know the story. A mother comes to the rescue, finds her daughter has eaten six seeds of the dark fruit, pomegranate seeds that crunched between the girl’s teeth, red juice running from her lips. And the mother’s world, the whole wide world, is changed.

Bradley keeps the story moving with a lot of the characters narrating parts of the story. Shelby’s character is well-drawn out and you can understand why she does what she does, what keeps her going, her sorrows and her determination. Liz’s (Katy’s mother) sorrow as a mother whose child has gone missing is palpable. Her effort to hold together for the sake of her daughter and her sanity are heart-wrenching. And then there is Jesse, the psychopath who picked Katy up, who raped and assaulted another young girl in his neighborhood, and his arrogance, his need to brag and to hurt and break things.

The narration could have been a bit tighter, but the story itself is gripping, so you can forgive Bradley her few ramblings. Being a woman, it was all the more chilling a read. We take so many things for granted, don’t observe enough, tend to be a bit gullible, and go through life thinking nothing bad could ever happen to us. But it can take a minute for your life to turn upside down – a slight delay in locking the car once you get in or ignoring your gut instinct could be devastating.

This book got me to give thanks for each day that I am safe, and to make sure that I take every precaution that I can – when I’m out and even when I am home.

Read it, it just might give you the push you need to make you more aware of your surroundings no matter where you are.

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I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. I would love to be able to read books like this, but to be honest I need to know if there’s a happy ending. I think the problem is that I so easily relate to the characters and feel traumatised by some books. It can leave me feeling low for weeks! I know real life doesn’t always have a happy ending but it’s easy to pretend it does.

    Living in the UK, it’s easy to assume that everything will be fine and that things like that happen, but as you say, it doesn’t take much to turn everything upside down.

    • I think we all live life thinking nothing bad will happen to us, but books like these do shake you up. There are some books that get you thinking – this was one of them, at least for me. It really scared me to think how easily things can change – for the worse.

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