Standalone to date
“Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter’s lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her—though it is stressful—and her daughter, Megan, is a happily over-scheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team.
But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer. Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few inquiries and discovers that things don’t add up. As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life. Yet Jill can’t turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own.”
I picked this up on a whim when I needed something to read whilst sun-bathing outside and this is the perfect book for such an occasion! While not perfect, it was a great mix of light and dark.
1. The characters. The characters are quite typical. While they don’t have terribly complex pasts that are explored (except for Jill), they are fleshed out enough for the reader to be drawn right in. I certainly had issues with Jill’s parenting style (though I’ve seen worse) although I loved how the author worked to make the problems and opinions facing Jill and Sam (her fiancé) as nuanced and multi-faceted as possible. I could understand where both of them were coming from. I was really interested in the dynamic between the sisters as there were multiple marriages which isn’t easy on any child involved. There wasn’t too much depth provided but again, there was enough to get a sense of their feelings. All in all, adequate but not phenomenal.
2. The plot. The plot was pretty interesting to me. While this book is mostly driven by the characters (it’s a mix of mystery and coming-of-age style genres), the plot provided a good drive to the story. I also thoroughly enjoyed how the author kept up with the lives of the characters and made sure to include several secondary plot lines to better display the lives of the characters realistically. I honestly think that’s my favorite part of this book. The author did such a good job in keeping the balance of the mystery and danger as well as the typical problems facing a family in the midst of another marriage with children involved. I didn’t love the ending, however, as it was much too typical and cheesy. There is a certain amount of cheese I’m able to handle in a book but that was used up with a good amount of dialogue that felt off.
3. The writing. I personally like this writer’s writing style. While I haven’t read any of her other work, I have no doubt she writes wonderful contemporaries and romances. Everything is clear and laid out in a nice linear fashion and while her writing isn’t over flowery or metaphorical (think Tahereh Mafi), it’s functional which serves the genre well.
4. The atmosphere. Like I said at the beginning of this review, I picked this up on a whim (my friend had brought it with us and she leant it to me) while I was sun-bathing and it’s the perfect book for such a setting. It has the perfect mix of light and dark and is such a great book to read outside in the warmth on a lazy afternoon. It’s a very comfortable book that you can pick up and put down with ease.
The Final Verdict:
A comfortable, well-written and adequately developed contemporary mystery. However, there is an unacceptably cheesy ending and plenty of cheddar sprinkled throughout the book.
“That’s what books do, isn’t it? That’s why I love to read. They bring us closer to ourselves.”
“She had lived long enough to learn that families didn’t dissolve or reconfigure neatly, but left debris lying everywhere, and it was human debris. And sometimes, like tonight, she felt as if she were tripping over the bodies.”
Meet the Author: