Read Remark Book Review - Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Book Review: Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Published June 2017
Riverhead Books

One-sentence summary:
Three families on a luxury cruise are separated from their children.

I wasn’t quite sure if I could do this one. I have kids of my own and the thought of losing them, really losing them, makes me so panicked I can barely breathe.

The drama isn’t quite so high in Do Not Become Alarmed, at least for Liv and Ben.

Yes, the parents are nervous and filled with outrage at each other, the cruise line, the tour guide, and anyone else in the vicinity. But the real panic, the seizing fear and desperation of not knowing where your children are or even if they’re alive, seems muted for them.

This helps move the book along. After all, we get to see what happens to the kids once they go missing. The story can’t exactly stand still in a rigor mortis of fear and uncertainty. And neither can the kids, who in reality would be a lot more traumatized by what was happening to them.

Meloy draws the class differences in almost comical contrast.

Upper-class entitlement is ridiculous in the presence of the locals who struggle to make a living.

At one point, the children are traveling with a possible savior. He has risked everything, walked away from his life in the sole purpose of getting the children to safety. One child is uncomfortable and hungry and decides in her mind that if he were their babysitter, her mother would fire him.

His services just aren’t up to her standard.

The tragic hero of this story is


Maybe it’s the difference between the haves and have-nots. Or Americans versus everyone else. Or perhaps it’s a meditation on the dangers of not being enough of a helicopter parent.

We’re to simultaneously become alarmed and not alarmed at all of life’s injustices.