Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel


The moving and suspenseful new novel that Ann Patchett calls “smart and thrilling and impossible to put down… the book that every reader longs for.”

“This summer’s undoubtable smash hit… an addictive, heart-palpitating story.” —Marie Claire

The sun is shining, the sea is blue, the children have disappeared.

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone. 
The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed. 
Do Not Become Alarmed is a story about the protective force of innocence and the limits of parental power, and an insightful look at privileged illusions of safety. Celebrated for her spare and moving fiction, Maile Meloy has written a gripping novel about how quickly what we count on can fall away, and the way a crisis shifts our perceptions of what matters most.


“Meloy is a subtle and sophisticated writer…Meloy pokes around in some profound subject matter…[her] portrait of well-meaning but still ugly Americans resonates.” —New York Times

“A very smart work of literary fiction… Meloy is such a deft writer that she keeps the adventure plot whizzing along even as she deepens our sense of the characters and the unfamiliar culture they have to navigate.” —Fresh Air, NPR

“[Do Not Become Alarmed has] characters that are fully rendered and original, and writing that is beautifully spare and understated…while feeding us high drama.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“[Meloy delivers] a wild, propulsive plot with tight prose and a constant current of suspense. It’s a thrilling novel, well constructed and hard to put down, a sharp reminder that the tide can take us anywhere, even when the water looks fine.” —Los Angeles Times

“[For summer reading] I’ll want a book that’s thrilling and artful, a true page-turner that will leave me feeling smart, so I’ll read Maile Meloy’s Do Not Become Alarmed.” —Ann Patchett in The Washington Post

“Meloy reels you into the story with her cool and fluid prose.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Our advice: Don’t read Maile Meloy’s new adrenaline-driven thriller of class, race, and disappeared children after dark… Do Not Become Alarmed will keep you up all night, compelled by the book’s twisty plot and seductive, tightly wound suspense.” —Elle

“This summer’s undoubtable smash hit… an addictive, heart-palpitating story.” —Marie Claire

“If there is one must-read book this summer, this is it.” —Real Simple

“Seen on pool loungers and beach towels from Nantucket to Santa Monica since the hardcover’s debut in June, this thriller has become the page-turner of summer 2017.” Forbes