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The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing

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A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads "Atlantis Black." The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed. So begins Betsy Bonner's search for her sister, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before her dis A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads "Atlantis Black." The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed. So begins Betsy Bonner's search for her sister, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before her disappearance, alleged overdose, and death. With access to Atlantis’ email and social media accounts, Bonner attempts to decipher and construct a narrative: frantic and unintelligible Facebook posts, alarming images of Atlantis with a handgun, Craigslist companionship ads, DEA agent testimony, video surveillance, police reports, and various phone calls and moments conjured from memory. Through a history only she and Atlantis shared—a childhood fraught with abuse and mental illness, Atlantis's precocious yet short rise in the music world, and through it all an unshakeable bond of sisterhood—Bonner finds questions that lead to only more questions and possible clues that seem to point in no particular direction. In this haunting memoir and piercing true crime account, Bonner must decide how far she will go to understand a sister who, like the mythical island she renamed herself for, might prove impossible to find.   


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A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads "Atlantis Black." The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed. So begins Betsy Bonner's search for her sister, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before her dis A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads "Atlantis Black." The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed. So begins Betsy Bonner's search for her sister, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before her disappearance, alleged overdose, and death. With access to Atlantis’ email and social media accounts, Bonner attempts to decipher and construct a narrative: frantic and unintelligible Facebook posts, alarming images of Atlantis with a handgun, Craigslist companionship ads, DEA agent testimony, video surveillance, police reports, and various phone calls and moments conjured from memory. Through a history only she and Atlantis shared—a childhood fraught with abuse and mental illness, Atlantis's precocious yet short rise in the music world, and through it all an unshakeable bond of sisterhood—Bonner finds questions that lead to only more questions and possible clues that seem to point in no particular direction. In this haunting memoir and piercing true crime account, Bonner must decide how far she will go to understand a sister who, like the mythical island she renamed herself for, might prove impossible to find.   

30 review for The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I found this to be a rather gripping read that kept me coming back for more. I was always wanting to know what was going on, and what was coming next. Then it was the curiosity of how it was going to turn out. It really pulled me in, for sure. It certainly got my mind off of the stress of the things that have been going on around the US lately, what virus?! Takes you out of your own situation and that can be a good thing for the hours you are reading. A nice escape. This was a book that wasn’t a I found this to be a rather gripping read that kept me coming back for more. I was always wanting to know what was going on, and what was coming next. Then it was the curiosity of how it was going to turn out. It really pulled me in, for sure. It certainly got my mind off of the stress of the things that have been going on around the US lately, what virus?! Takes you out of your own situation and that can be a good thing for the hours you are reading. A nice escape. This was a book that wasn’t available to request, I could only “Wish” for an advance electronic copy on NetGalley, and I got lucky and was chosen. Just thrilled. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Betsy Bonner, and the publisher.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The Book of Atlantis Black by Grace Bonner details the mysterious death of her sister, Atlantis Black. Atlantis Black, a troubled thirty-one-year-old woman, is found dead in a Tijuana hotel room. With the death investigation rapidly concluded and death believed to have been caused by a drug overdose. Without even being fingerprinted, the body is quickly cremated, even though reports drafted at the time reveal the physical appearance of the body does not resemble the different forms of identifica The Book of Atlantis Black by Grace Bonner details the mysterious death of her sister, Atlantis Black. Atlantis Black, a troubled thirty-one-year-old woman, is found dead in a Tijuana hotel room. With the death investigation rapidly concluded and death believed to have been caused by a drug overdose. Without even being fingerprinted, the body is quickly cremated, even though reports drafted at the time reveal the physical appearance of the body does not resemble the different forms of identification found within the room with the body. Grace Bonner then attempts to learn more about the final months of her sister's life and writes a book memorializing her sister's life. Along the way, Grace Bonner learns of the many strange and eccentric people that had come into Atlantis's life, one of them being a woman she identifies only as "Gretchen." Gretchen seems to be a strange, parasitic human anemone, not only able to deeply insert herself into Atlantis Black's life, but also into their mother's life as well. Soon Grace Bonner learns the more information she learns of her sister, the more mysterious her death becomes. Early on in the book, it is revealed Atlantis Black was a troubled, talented musician, haunted by many life events while battling mental illness and substance abuse. Grace Bonner has written a poignant book detailing not only her sister's life but her entire family's as well. In the book, while other friends and family grew weary of the erratic life of Atlantis Black, Grace Bonner remained close to her and shows she is the type of sibling wished for by anyone. The Book of Atlantis Black is lovingly written and tells a story that will not easily be forgotten. NetGalley provided an ARC of this book for a fair and honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book was a selection in this year's (virtual) Book Expo Publicist Speed Dating--always my favorite event. The blend of true crime and memoir with allusions to cover ups and conspiracies really caught my attention. Readers are given insight into one family's struggle with mental illness, the spiral of drug abuse by an aspiring musician, and a sister's attempt to make sense of it all. Bonner presents a jumble o I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book was a selection in this year's (virtual) Book Expo Publicist Speed Dating--always my favorite event. The blend of true crime and memoir with allusions to cover ups and conspiracies really caught my attention. Readers are given insight into one family's struggle with mental illness, the spiral of drug abuse by an aspiring musician, and a sister's attempt to make sense of it all. Bonner presents a jumble of questions without any answers, leaving readers just as unmoored as she is from her sister's death (?). Intriguing and heartbreaking, this ode to a sister was likely cathartic but I found it lacking clarification and the author's actions/inactions extremely frustrating.⁠ Come chat with me about books here, too: Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laverne M

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is hung on the true crime premise of whether it was actually the authors sister found dead in a Tijuana hotel room. While it is certainly the all too familiar, tragic tale of mental illness, pharmacology, substance abuse, with sexual abuse - there seems to be a conspiracy stretch regarding a sketchy, obsessive friend and a real crime. The manic songs and partners and stories, plus siblings, mental illness in family, were enough to write about. It left me not liking the salacious rumina This book is hung on the true crime premise of whether it was actually the authors sister found dead in a Tijuana hotel room. While it is certainly the all too familiar, tragic tale of mental illness, pharmacology, substance abuse, with sexual abuse - there seems to be a conspiracy stretch regarding a sketchy, obsessive friend and a real crime. The manic songs and partners and stories, plus siblings, mental illness in family, were enough to write about. It left me not liking the salacious ruminating. Her sister was suicidal, an addict, trying to get money in lots of ways and even left emails & print letters to document more than most ever know. Kind of surprised it has gotten promotion it has. For an amazing mental illness book on a family, try Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker I instead.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rennie

    What a weird, sad, strange story, but an incredibly compelling book. I’m not convinced there’s much of a mystery there, but it does leave you with a general feeling of being unsettled, and it’s easy to see why the author felt as she did and wanted to write about her sister’s life and death. I haven’t much liked the recent spate of true crime/memoir combos where the memoir portion is shoehorned in to a crime story that really has nothing to do with the author, much as they want it to, but this is What a weird, sad, strange story, but an incredibly compelling book. I’m not convinced there’s much of a mystery there, but it does leave you with a general feeling of being unsettled, and it’s easy to see why the author felt as she did and wanted to write about her sister’s life and death. I haven’t much liked the recent spate of true crime/memoir combos where the memoir portion is shoehorned in to a crime story that really has nothing to do with the author, much as they want it to, but this is a perfect example of that genre working; it’s done beautifully. The publisher comparisons to The Fact of a Body and The Red Parts are fitting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! CW: drug use, untreated bipolar disorder, sexual abuse, death, and attempted suicide I hate rating memoirs low because, well, it's a story of someone's life and their life is subjective. However, I just really didn't like this book. I felt for Bonner and her search for her sister, especially with her sister's severe mental illness that wasn't getting the proper treatment. But I just didn't like the book. I know that if it had be I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! CW: drug use, untreated bipolar disorder, sexual abuse, death, and attempted suicide I hate rating memoirs low because, well, it's a story of someone's life and their life is subjective. However, I just really didn't like this book. I felt for Bonner and her search for her sister, especially with her sister's severe mental illness that wasn't getting the proper treatment. But I just didn't like the book. I know that if it had been any longer than it was (because it was very short), this would have ended up a DNF for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I really hate writing bad reviews, but this book was so disjointed and not at all well written. I was lured in by the promotion of the book. The bio of Atlantis Black and her death was interesting, but by the end I don't think Bonner proved any of the points she set out to make. She writes about an obsessed friend, but I never saw any evidence of this in the book and started to think Bonner herself was the one who was obsessed and just not coping with her sisters death. Not a huge fan of this on I really hate writing bad reviews, but this book was so disjointed and not at all well written. I was lured in by the promotion of the book. The bio of Atlantis Black and her death was interesting, but by the end I don't think Bonner proved any of the points she set out to make. She writes about an obsessed friend, but I never saw any evidence of this in the book and started to think Bonner herself was the one who was obsessed and just not coping with her sisters death. Not a huge fan of this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The Book of Atlantis Black by Grace Bonner details the mysterious death of her sister, Atlantis Black. Atlantis Black, a troubled thirty-one-year-old woman, is found dead in a Tijuana hotel room. With the death investigation rapidly concluded and death believed to have been caused by a drug overdose. Without even being fingerprinted, the body is quickly cremated, even though reports drafted at the time reveal the physical appearance of the body does not resemble the different forms of identifica The Book of Atlantis Black by Grace Bonner details the mysterious death of her sister, Atlantis Black. Atlantis Black, a troubled thirty-one-year-old woman, is found dead in a Tijuana hotel room. With the death investigation rapidly concluded and death believed to have been caused by a drug overdose. Without even being fingerprinted, the body is quickly cremated, even though reports drafted at the time reveal the physical appearance of the body does not resemble the different forms of identification found within the room with the body. Grace Bonner then attempts to learn more about the final months of her sister's life and writes a book memorializing her sister's life. Along the way, Grace Bonner learns of the many strange and eccentric people that had come into Atlantis's life, one of them being a woman she identifies only as "Gretchen." Gretchen seems to be a strange, parasitic human anemone, not only able to deeply insert herself into Atlantis Black's life, but also into their mother's life as well. Soon Grace Bonner learns the more information she learns of her sister, the more mysterious her death becomes. Early on in the book, it is revealed Atlantis Black was a troubled, talented musician, haunted by many life events while battling mental illness and substance abuse. Grace Bonner has written a poignant book detailing not only her sister's life but her entire family's as well. In the book, while other friends and family grew weary of the erratic life of Atlantis Black, Grace Bonner remained close to her and shows she is the type of sibling wished for by anyone. The Book of Atlantis Black is lovingly written and tells a story that will not easily be forgotten and is one of the best books read this year. NetGalley provided an ARC of this book for a fair and honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tzipora

    Described by publisher Tin House as “powerful punk-rock-true-crime reckoning”, Betsy Bonner’s The Book of Atlantis Black is one hell of a read! Propulsively paced in short chapters, you may find yourself devouring it whole only to spend days after thinking about it. I still have so many questions and I’ve never read a book quite like this one where my mind was left spinning and reality was far stranger than any fiction. Betsy’s book is a form of tribute to her sister Atlantis. It’s also a fierce Described by publisher Tin House as “powerful punk-rock-true-crime reckoning”, Betsy Bonner’s The Book of Atlantis Black is one hell of a read! Propulsively paced in short chapters, you may find yourself devouring it whole only to spend days after thinking about it. I still have so many questions and I’ve never read a book quite like this one where my mind was left spinning and reality was far stranger than any fiction. Betsy’s book is a form of tribute to her sister Atlantis. It’s also a fierce reckoning with grief, mystery, and all the pain and frustrations of loving very problematic people. The wildest thing though may not even be Atlantis but the strange way she had of connecting with outcasts and oddballs and the ways in which these people added to the mystery of her final days. Then there’s the question of how much does truth matter when a loved one dies? Does knowing the facts help? Can you ever fully believe the facts are actual facts with a death and a life as complex and complicated as Atlantis’s? This would be an amazing book to discuss in a book club or for true crime junkies to pour over. But I hope too, that even for true crime fans, the book brings to mind a different framing or set of questions. What are survivors owed when their family members die under mysterious circumstances? What could possibly change if we knew more about some of the missing pieces? How much does Betsy really want to know either? There’s so much here. It was really cool to read this one just after reading another rather experimental (and wholly different! It was Catherine Lacey’s Pew) book. I’ve had a lot going on with my own life & health and at points I wasn’t able to read much, but engaging with books that flip convention on it’s head and make me ask all sorts of questions and contemplate what books can do & be- that’s been a wonderful experience. May be worth a try if you, too, are struggling to read right now. You’ve never read a book like this one and you have never met a woman like Atlantis Black. Absolutely unforgettable and I’ll be spinning this case around & around for ages. Huge thank you to Tin House for another incredible Galley Club read! I can not recommend Tin House and pretty much all they publish more highly! I was a big fan of their literary magazine and seeing their focus shift towards publishing incredible books, with covers and design that make them works of art- I just adore them and don’t think you can go wrong reading their entire catalog.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tina Rae

    Wow. W O W. Wooooow. This is a FASCINATING book. So I picked this one up through Tin House's Galley Club and they pitched it as a punk rock memoir. Which is kind of what it is? But it also has elements of true crime and a mystery. So it's a lot of different genres but all of it is fascinating. So. I really liked the ~voice behind this and Betsy's own experiences but also following Atlantis and throwing in quotes from an interview Atlantis did shortly before her disappearance. The way this is writ Wow. W O W. Wooooow. This is a FASCINATING book. So I picked this one up through Tin House's Galley Club and they pitched it as a punk rock memoir. Which is kind of what it is? But it also has elements of true crime and a mystery. So it's a lot of different genres but all of it is fascinating. So. I really liked the ~voice behind this and Betsy's own experiences but also following Atlantis and throwing in quotes from an interview Atlantis did shortly before her disappearance. The way this is written almost makes Atlantis feel like an enigma. We get a lot of facts about her and experience a lot of her life but she almost feels more like a ghost. This book definitely keeps you guessing and I really love the format. It almost doesn't feel like you're reading a memoir either. But truth is stranger than fiction. And there are still many questions left unanswered by the end but that's to be expected. So. I don't really know how to accurately describe this book since it's such a unique read. But I did really, really enjoy it. And it's such a short book that it sucks you right in and before you know it, you've read the whole thing. If you're looking to jump into true crime/a real life mystery, this is a good one. I definitely recommend and I know I will be revisiting this one in the future!! Thank you to Tin House for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    Bonner is a poet. I haven't read a lot of poetry, but the few books I have read that have been written by poets are written beautifully. Her writing style fits so well for the story of her sister -- snippets & snapshots of memories, conversations, information. A kaleidoscope of pieces. This is a sad book, a look at family dysfunction, mental illness, drug addiction, abuse, suicide, more. Love & loss. Bonner's sister led a tumultuous life & there are, possibly, questions about her death. Was it d Bonner is a poet. I haven't read a lot of poetry, but the few books I have read that have been written by poets are written beautifully. Her writing style fits so well for the story of her sister -- snippets & snapshots of memories, conversations, information. A kaleidoscope of pieces. This is a sad book, a look at family dysfunction, mental illness, drug addiction, abuse, suicide, more. Love & loss. Bonner's sister led a tumultuous life & there are, possibly, questions about her death. Was it death? A planned disappearance? Ultimately, I think it shows that life is never a straight road, there are detours & pitfalls, unknown & unseen things, & that closure is an elusive state of being. Maybe it never really happens; maybe it's just part of the continuum; maybe it's a path down conspiracy lane. If you like all your stories linear & with a wrapped-up ending, you may feel adrift in the pages here. There's a lot of open-endedness & there are no hard or final answers. It's a book-length question about another person's life. Enjoyed is not the right word. I deeply appreciated this open, probing quest in search of her sister's life & death. Thanks to Tin House Books for sending me an ARC to read & review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shilo

    The Book of Atlantis Black reads like a personal account of an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. I swear I could even hear the creepy intro music to that show the whole way through. This memoir follows Betsy as she searches for answers to the mysterious set of circumstances that led to her sisters death in Tijuana, but more than that it asks the question: Do we ever really know a person? Betsy leads us through her and Nancy's, later to change her name to Atlantis, childhood with a sometimes loving, The Book of Atlantis Black reads like a personal account of an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. I swear I could even hear the creepy intro music to that show the whole way through. This memoir follows Betsy as she searches for answers to the mysterious set of circumstances that led to her sisters death in Tijuana, but more than that it asks the question: Do we ever really know a person? Betsy leads us through her and Nancy's, later to change her name to Atlantis, childhood with a sometimes loving, sometimes abusive father and a mother who is distanced by her own struggles with mental illness. We watch as Betsy tries to make sense of who her sister was, who she became, and how she died, through the examination of Atlantis lived experiences with sexual abuse, physical abuse, a never ending desire to disappear, drug addiction, her on again off again career as a musician, and years later a major pharmaceutical trial in California. Atlantis's life is juxtaposed with Betsy's own and is pressed up against the generational inheritance of mental illness and suicide that runs on her mother's side of the family. Sometimes books serve as an answer to a question, but The Book of Atlantis Black is a series of questions with no straightforward answer. There is no satisfying bow at the end of this book, but what it leaves the reader with is the understanding that nothing is understood. Those we love will leave us, and when they do we are only left with our memories of the pieces of who they tried to tell us they were.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Whitten

    I am just haunted,

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shawna

    I finished this book in one day. After I read the first page I was hooked and couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see what happened next.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Grace

    On June 25 2008, a young woman with my sister's IDs was found dead on the floor of a hotel room in Tijuana. So begins The Book of Atlantis Black, a true crime turned memoir account of the author's reinvented sister Atlantis Black. Composed of snippets and memories that together form a heart-breaking picture of a young woman with profound trauma and mental illness. The book is compulsively readable and the use of short bursts of memories and mixed media is incredibly propulsive. It is very hard On June 25 2008, a young woman with my sister's IDs was found dead on the floor of a hotel room in Tijuana. So begins The Book of Atlantis Black, a true crime turned memoir account of the author's reinvented sister Atlantis Black. Composed of snippets and memories that together form a heart-breaking picture of a young woman with profound trauma and mental illness. The book is compulsively readable and the use of short bursts of memories and mixed media is incredibly propulsive. It is very hard to put down. The story alone would have anyone reading but I think the author did a beautiful job in the execution as well. She tells the painful story of her sister, and whole family, with such honesty. The result is a fascinating story told not just with style but also with great empathy. My guess if that this sounds like your thing, it probably is. There are more content warnings than I care to list here, so do some research if you have any sensitivities. If not, I can't recommend this one more highly. Thank you so much to the publisher, Tin House, for providing me with this ARC! All opinions are my own.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Pollock

    I didn‘t love it. I guess it‘s not a great time to read a memoir about the mysterious death of someone‘s mentally ill, drug addicted sister. I spent the whole time impatient with Atlantis‘s grandiosity, narcissism, and manipulation. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I read this in one sitting - a real page turner, well written and articulated. Like reading a diary. A fascinating true story told in paragraphs, both present day and past, about two sisters. One, stable and sound, the other trapped in a mentally dark place never able to escape. This memoir is a sad and familiar look at mental illness, opiate dependency, and how it destroys families and individuals. My heart goes out to Betsy and all she’s been through and the answers she still seeks. It’s a nar I read this in one sitting - a real page turner, well written and articulated. Like reading a diary. A fascinating true story told in paragraphs, both present day and past, about two sisters. One, stable and sound, the other trapped in a mentally dark place never able to escape. This memoir is a sad and familiar look at mental illness, opiate dependency, and how it destroys families and individuals. My heart goes out to Betsy and all she’s been through and the answers she still seeks. It’s a narrative I know first hand, especially as a sister.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paula’s Not So Secret Diary

    I defy anyone to resist the pull of this book after reading the first paragraph. Betsy Bonner chronicles her sister’s life, from her budding career as a musician to her early death from complications of mental illness that manifested in part in a drug addiction. At the same time, Ms. Bonner how her family history shaped her own trajectory as well as her sister’s. Especially effective are Ms. Bonner’s efforts to understand and live with the grief of her loss. Compelling and haunting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    I'm very thankful I won this in the giveaway. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I was going to. it was raw and i couldn't stop. the format of the book made it very easy to read. the paragraph were concise and not filled with frivolous comments. I want to know who Gretchen is so I can fight her.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Connie Wilson

    Very disjointed jumping back & forth thru timelines of family history. Think the sister wrote to be cathartic for herself in search of answers for her sisters death, drug abuse & mental illness. Hopefully this helped her. Very disjointed jumping back & forth thru timelines of family history. Think the sister wrote to be cathartic for herself in search of answers for her sisters death, drug abuse & mental illness. Hopefully this helped her.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather O'Neill

    Betsy Bonner's sister Atlantis Black was found dead in a hotel room in Mexico. The photographs of her sister from the coroner looked like her, but then Betsy starts to doubt that it is in her sister. This novel explores Atlantis Black's life growing up and then what led her to Mexico and if that was really her that died. I had gone into this book thinking that it was going to be more of a murder mystery/true crime novel than what it was. It seems obvious to me that Atlantis killed herself (I thi Betsy Bonner's sister Atlantis Black was found dead in a hotel room in Mexico. The photographs of her sister from the coroner looked like her, but then Betsy starts to doubt that it is in her sister. This novel explores Atlantis Black's life growing up and then what led her to Mexico and if that was really her that died. I had gone into this book thinking that it was going to be more of a murder mystery/true crime novel than what it was. It seems obvious to me that Atlantis killed herself (I think unintentionally) and that she had a fucked up life. Some stuff doesn't make sense, but I also think that when dealing with someone who is mentally ill and on drugs stuff isn't going to make sense. I felt bad for the whole family. It doesn't seem like Betsy has closure with what happened to Atlantis, but hopefully writing this book gave her some of that. I had a hard time putting down the novel and felt like Betsy did a great job writing it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily K.

    Whorephobia, victim blaming, all around paranoia about any person connected to a life that a sister dove headlong into until it consumed her, every last bit. Like, this is a document where someone is trying to make sense of things that, from the outside, cannot be made sensible. When you read someone's emails you don't get the whole picture. You project, through prisms of fear and rage and sadness, ideas about what a life should be, not was. People are "sketchy" based on what? Their characteriza Whorephobia, victim blaming, all around paranoia about any person connected to a life that a sister dove headlong into until it consumed her, every last bit. Like, this is a document where someone is trying to make sense of things that, from the outside, cannot be made sensible. When you read someone's emails you don't get the whole picture. You project, through prisms of fear and rage and sadness, ideas about what a life should be, not was. People are "sketchy" based on what? Their characterizations are not there, beyond them being "sketchy" or having damning epithets or, god forbid, criminal records. These are details, moments which fail to portray the fullness of a life, like a person can be an addict, traumatized, in pain, totally mentally destroyed, but still a full human being, and I feel like I don't get this fullness. It feels sour, full of doubts, a sense of surprise at anything normal. It feels like a mourning text, full of feelings about the author more than the author's sister, its subject. It feels like a grieving text, mired in denial. It feels like wanting to remove the green ribbon from a neck you can't quite reach, because it was never in this world to begin with.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nora Dillonovich

    I don’t know how to rate this one. I couldn’t put it down, was disturbed by the story and found the paranoia, doubt, obsessiveness somewhat contagious. I need to watch Troop Beverly Hills a few times to purge it all. It must have been brutal to write. There is a haunting to it that reminded me of Maggie Nelson’s The Red Parts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I cannot rate this book yet. It was maddening, like a deep itch that refuses to be calmed. Bonner's narrative is as obfuscated as the factual details of her sister's disappearance. It's meta! While waiting for my ordered copy to arrive I attended a virtual author's talk moderated by Christopher Castellani - Bonner's former high school English teacher - in which she read an excerpt about how she had a crush on him. But it was more pointed and sexual than complimentary and just left me feeling icky I cannot rate this book yet. It was maddening, like a deep itch that refuses to be calmed. Bonner's narrative is as obfuscated as the factual details of her sister's disappearance. It's meta! While waiting for my ordered copy to arrive I attended a virtual author's talk moderated by Christopher Castellani - Bonner's former high school English teacher - in which she read an excerpt about how she had a crush on him. But it was more pointed and sexual than complimentary and just left me feeling icky in that moment. I feel Bonner discounts that Atlantis was a run-of-the-mill drug addict who OD'ed. Bonner has bought into her sister's and mother's delusions or paranoia. I realize I'm an asshole for saying that, because it's not my life, not my lived experience, and I have no right to that opinion, but... where can one draw the line when the subject is published as a book to which an outsider (the reader) is given access to make of it what one will? When does the private become public for consumption? Oh, and another itch that I cannot scratch: during to author talk, Bonner talked about her mother as if she were alive. I could swear that she said a couple of different times that she had talked to her mother, like, within the last couple of days! But, SPOILER ALERT, Bonner writes about her mom's death 5 months after Atlantis'. Weirdness. For all of its irresolution... does that mean the book - which clearly is under my skin - deserves a high rating? I think fiction is allowed to remain unresolved to create a space for theory, speculation, and discussion. But non-fiction and memoir?? Uggghh, I'M SOOO ITCHY!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carissa Minder

    Amazing!! Loved the language and style

  26. 4 out of 5

    nomadreader (Carrie D-L)

    Extraordinary

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jay Outhier

    Engrossing, compassionate and honest. The eye for detail one brings to a mystery focuses on the most telling complexities of character and emotion. Full of contradictions and completely devoid of bullshit.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tashay

    I can never get enough of reading memoirs; no two stories are alike and it’s such a treat getting a glimpse into someone else’s life.⁣ ⁣ “The Book of Atlantis Black,” is the sad, haunting, and bizarre story of Betsy Bonner’s search for her missing sister, Atlantis Black. Atlantis, was a precocious child and a natural-born rebel, so much so that her father would try to ‘beat her into submission.’ A rocky childhood put Atlantis on a dark path of drug abuse, mental illness, and sketchy relationships, I can never get enough of reading memoirs; no two stories are alike and it’s such a treat getting a glimpse into someone else’s life.⁣ ⁣ “The Book of Atlantis Black,” is the sad, haunting, and bizarre story of Betsy Bonner’s search for her missing sister, Atlantis Black. Atlantis, was a precocious child and a natural-born rebel, so much so that her father would try to ‘beat her into submission.’ A rocky childhood put Atlantis on a dark path of drug abuse, mental illness, and sketchy relationships, with the dream of becoming a rockstar.⁣ ⁣ She “disappeared” in 2008 when a body was found in a Tijuana hotel room along with her identification cards. But was it actually Atlantis? This is the question Betsy tries to answer for majority of the memoir and every time she gets closer, she’s pushed in a different direction. There is no clear answer, only more questions.⁣ ⁣ This memoir was a rollercoaster ride. I got pretty wrapped up in Betsy’s obsession with solving the riddle of Atlantis’ disappearance. At times the author seemed a bit detached but I was okay with it because the special connection between Betsy and Atlantis still peeks through; I also wondered if it were just the authors way of processing such a devastating reality.⁣ ⁣ I can’t believe a story like this exists; it’ll surely turn you into a conspiracy theorist if you aren’t already! In the end it begs the question of “what is closure?” And how do we move on without it?⁣ ⁣ If true-crime, missing person stories, and mysteries are your jam, I suggest checking this out. Thank you Tin House for the review copy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennydlovesthebooks

    The quote on the front from Amy Hemple sums this up "Maddening and fascinating. The reader is made to feel what it's like to be denied answers in a essential search." This book was fascinating and sad at the same time. And Gretchen -- who is Gretchen and what is her story? I would love to ask her why? Her obsession is puzzling and haunting. I believe she is the guitar girl, too... So many questions, such a puzzle. This really made me feel for Betsy Bonner and her family.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Hottinger

    Betsy tries so hard to be a mother to her sister, as Mom is suffering from depression and has attempted suicide many times. Dad passed away early on after living as an extreme disciplinarian of his daughters. Atlantis turns to drugs and makes poor choices after becoming addicted to pain pills after a back injury. Betsy still searches for answers, as her sister is found dead. Or is it her? The questions and quick cremation leaves Betsy to wonder if it was her sister or all camouflage for somethin Betsy tries so hard to be a mother to her sister, as Mom is suffering from depression and has attempted suicide many times. Dad passed away early on after living as an extreme disciplinarian of his daughters. Atlantis turns to drugs and makes poor choices after becoming addicted to pain pills after a back injury. Betsy still searches for answers, as her sister is found dead. Or is it her? The questions and quick cremation leaves Betsy to wonder if it was her sister or all camouflage for something much deeper. The pages pull you into a life of addiction, mental health issues, and desire for connection. I only wish this were fiction, as I feel for Betsy and the questions left unanswered! #hottingerhighlights

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