The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown.

Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.  

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn’t want you to be.


“Deeply compassionate and full of hope, this book is proof that we can survive both horrific harm and our earliest, most awkward stabs at self-determination. We Now Return to Regular Life is a graceful, moving testament to love of all kinds.”

—National Book Award finalist Laura McNeal, author of Dark Water

“Populated with wonderfully complex and empathetic characters, Wilson’s novel is beautifully written, displaying the perfect balance of heartbreak and hope with an always apposite tone and style that will capture readers’ hearts.”

—Booklist (Starred Review and Best Books of the Week)

“Offers a moving and believable depiction of a damaged survivor and what his return means to those around him.”

—Publishers Weekly Picks: Books of the Week

With We Now Return to Regular Life, Wilson has written a thought-provoking exploration of adolescence; a subtle, sympathetic study of trauma and guilt; and ultimately, a much-needed novel which provides representation for those who face similar battles.

Lambda Literary Review

“We Now Return to Regular Life is an important story told with candor and tenderness. . . . Though it excavates some very rough terrain, this novel is far from a downer. Teens and their parents will appreciate the honest and sensitive take on the issues presented, as well as the wealth of positive, strong-but-human characters. Martin Wilson has written a story that shows how healing is possible, even when the path forward seems too dark to navigate.”

—Chapter 16

"This literary thriller is gripping and will make you ache with compassion for the characters within." 

Read It Forward

“I was completely caught up in this story; the characters made me feel like a part of their world and I was a little hesitant to put down the book...”

—The Suspense is Thrilling Me


“Brave, bold, and giant-hearted. It’s packed with raw emotions and is as compelling as any literary thriller could hope to be. Five pages in, there’s no turning back. Why? Because this is an astoundingly good book.”

—Patrick Ryan, author of The Dream Life of Astronauts and Saints of Augustine

“An extraordinary book about first regret and finding redemption.”

—Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice and What We Saw

"A convincing exploration of teenage consciousness and conscience."

Tuscaloosa News

“The whole story unfolds in a fast-paced, near-cinematic sweep of Alabama heat, religion, and family drama. . . . A fast-paced yet complex and heart-rending read.”

—Kirkus Reviews

"Brave and important. . . . It’s the quiet moments in this novel that pack the biggest emotional punch. . . . At its heart are three compelling teens who want stability, friendship, love, and normalcy in their lives. . . . Wilson’s portrayal of families and friends broken by the abduction of a child is a compelling and worthwhile read."

The Miami Rail

“Gripping and intense, debut author Martin Wilson weaves together a heart-wrenching depiction of what it means to survive trauma and the long road to recovery for him and his family and friends.”

—Brightly (Best YA books of August)

“Readers will be speechless from cover to cover — this book is an absolute must-read! . . . Packed with drama, tension and heartache, Wilson’s debut novel is groundbreaking.”

—RT Review

“This book was phenomenal…It is by far one of the best books I’ve read all year. If you want an intense, engaging, gripping, gut-punch of a novel, look no further!”  

—The Pretty Good Gatsby