My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Imagine that you and your children are in a horrific car accident. When you wake up in the hospital, unable to walk, everything seems off. You have blackouts where you wake up and people around you are walking on eggshells expecting the worst of your temper. Your husband is acting suspiciously like he is having an affair with your friend…but that’s not all. You’re convinced he wants to get rid of you. Your children are afraid of you. People keep alluding to things you don’t remember, but no one will tell you the truth. You are lost in a haze of events that seem surreal, hit by an unrelenting deja vu at the most unexpected moments, unsure of who you can trust or even what is real.
This is the predicament that Laura Kavanaugh finds herself in. As she recovers, she lives in suspicion of everyone around her, searching desperately for a truth she’s not sure she can face. Her journey will take her to the edges of her sanity and across an ocean. And once she has crossed that threshold, she might just wish she had never started looking.
I was spellbound by the twists and turns in this book for most of the reading. Every time I thought I had the plot figured out, I was wrong. Janelle Harris has the bones of a truly amazing story here. This is a page-turner that never stops trying to surprise you. The ending itself was remarkable and emotional, leaving you considering the tenuous links between happiness, perspective, and reality.
I remember not being terribly fond of The Girl on the Train, except for the way the unreliable narrator was written. I thought that was fabulous. Although the blackouts and fragments of memory in that far exceed what we have in this book in terms of writing style and structure, the premises are similar and never fail to engage me. I found myself wanting to know the truth just as much as Laura, so kudos to the author for making me want to take that journey to the very end.
That being said, this book is not without issues that I would be remiss not to discuss here as it can affect the way the book is read. I found a lot of the interior and exterior dialogue distractingly unbelievable at times. I hoped for more confusion and angst from Laura’s character and she seemed to just accept her situation too readily. She was a little too sure of what she thought was going on. (Well, my husband is trying to kill me. I guess that’s that then – that is not a direct quote, just what I found to be the general tone of the book.) There just wasn’t the raw emotion behind it that would really illicit a reaction from the reader. In addition, I didn’t feel like I was reading an actual conversation when the characters spoke to each other. It seemed as though they were simply dropping hints for the reader out of context rather than interacting with each other in a way that would grace the reader with bits of the truth naturally and gradually. I found that I had to suspend reality more than I would have liked to and some situations just seemed thrown in and didn’t fit or feel resolved.
Getting past all that, though, I think the author has touched on some really poignant ideas about how an individual’s sense of reality is truly based on their innate need for happiness and contentment. I appreciate this as it’s a new-ish idea for me and I’d like to spend more time thinking about that. The book is also quite a touching and heart-rending love story, although it doesn’t seem like it for most of the way through. All in all, I did truly enjoy the reading. If you liked Girl on the Train or appreciate a good thriller or an interesting unreliable narrator, then I’m sure you’ll find something to take away from this book.