‘You Always Come Back’ is a Hauntingly Beautiful Tale About Family, Loyalty, and Murder — Book Review

You Always Come Back Emily Smith Book Cover horizontal design

The debut novel from Emily Smith, You Always Come Back is a hauntingly beautiful tale about family, loyalty, and murder. It’s an intriguing story that grips the reader right from the start, with gorgeous prose describing July’s earliest memory of being with her father during a late-night storm in Georgia.

July is the novel’s protagonist, the eldest daughter of the Weaver family, and the child whose testimony put her father in prison. The story is told in the third person, shifting back and forth from the present day and the past, around the time when July’s little sister, May, was murdered. May is just the first of many women killed by a serial killer the town calls “The Pacific Lake Killer.”

In the present time, July goes by the name “Jules Thomas” and has made herself a career as a musician in Nashville. It’s a life we don’t see quite enough of before she gets a call that changes everything. July has been trying to escape her past, but her family convinces her to return home after one of her brothers tries to commit suicide.

When she returns home, she starts to question everything — including whether or not her father really killed May.

The story is full of suspense, mystery, and heartwrenching emotional moments, making it the kind of book that’s hard to stop reading. It also centers on colorful characters with plenty of depth; the Weaver family alone has a unique dynamic.

This family includes six siblings, two of them twins, and all named for the month in which they were born. Their parents are about as non-traditional as they could be, and their mother, Kathy, has a long history of mental illness.

All of this gives the family quite the reputation in their small town, which means the bonds they have with one another are much more important. It’s those bonds that also make things complicated, and those family dynamics are what drive the story the most.

You Always Come Back Emily Smith Book Cover
You Always Come Back Emily Smith Book Cover

Ultimately, it’s that bond that brings July back home, whether she likes it or not. Family loyalty means looking out for her youngest brother when she’s not even sure he deserves it.

July’s relationships with her siblings have changed since she first left town, but through the flashbacks, we learn how much more complicated those relationships became after May was killed.

Seeing her navigate these changes makes the story relatable even in situations where it might not otherwise be. And in her return home, those complications only add to the mystery further.

As she recalls her past and interacts with people in the town she hasn’t seen in years, including a past romance, everything she thought she used to know becomes questionable. The stakes become even higher as lives are once again in danger.

You Always Come Back has enough twists and turns to remain surprising, but it’s a mystery that allows the reader to make some educated guesses about how things will turn out.

It’s positively gripping, with moments that have the reader forgetting to breathe altogether. And yet, at its core, it’s just as heartwarming and relatable as it is thrilling.

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You Always Come Back by Emily Smith becomes available on Tuesday, October 10th.


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Ashley is the Editor-in-Chief of Eulalie Magazine. Favorite Movies: Sunset Boulevard, Garden State, Modern Times. Favorite TV Shows: Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey's Anatomy. Favorite Books: Interview with the Vampire, Dracula, City of Glass.

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