- My rating: 2/5 stars
- Genre: mystery, contemporary
- 362 pages
- TW: domestic abuse/violence, alcoholism
Single mother Maisey Addington has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.
Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a heartrending life-or-death decision. Her confused father has destroyed family records, including her mother’s final wishes. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.
Maisey’s obsession with solving the mystery of her sister forces her to examine her darkest memories and triggers a custody battle with Elle’s father. Will Maisey’s love for her daughter be strong enough to break a cycle of abuse and create a new beginning for them all?
Read below for my spoiler free review.
I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, all my opinions are my own. Disclaimer: this book contains instances of domestic violence/abuse and alcoholism, so if this is upsetting to you, please do not read it.
First and foremost, I would not identify this book as a mystery. It is a contemporary fiction about growth and redemption–yes, there are secrets and plot twists, but the descriptor of “mystery” is a bit misleading.
This is a slow-paced novel that begins with our main character, Maisey Addington, a single mother struggling to pay her rent and act with any sort of adult responsibility. For most of the book, I absolutely despised Maisey. She is spineless, immature, whiney, and childish. Her twelve-year-old daughter is the driving factor in her life–she is everything Maisey is not: put-together, self-aware, responsible. To me, these characterizations put me off of the story and made me resent the way the relationships were structured. One thing I absolutely despise in a book are weak female characters, although this was kind of the point of this novel, I suppose.
Through the narration, we learn about two stories (one of our main character Maisey, the other of her love interest) that center around domestic violence and the lasting pain and trauma that results from it. Unfortunately, I completely disagree with the way King wrote about it. Don’t get me wrong. I realize that victims blaming themselves and offering up excuses for their abusers is a tragic, albeit common coping mechanism, but I personally can’t relate to it and found it incredibly frustrating that there were very few strong characters who wanted to stand up for themselves. There were attempts at redemption, but for me, they came too little and too late. I think the point of the story was to expose readers to the emotional trauma suffered by the characters, but it was so poorly written that I ended up resenting them instead. I’m not going to discuss this further because I don’t feel like I’m in a position to criticize.
Other than the subject matter, the book was just alright. The prose was grammatically correct, but that’s about it…there was very little artistry or distinct style. I went in with expectations of intrigue and mystery, but what I got was a poorly-paced novel with a half-assed attempt at dual perspective. I was not a fan of this book and I wouldn’t recommend it, even as a potential source of abuse understanding or healing.
I am totally open to learning more about the victim’s perspective in these situations, so if anyone has thoughts or recommendations about that, please let me know. Perhaps this book was realistic, but the truth of it was too ugly for me to face. I’ve really only read about strong female characters, so this might have addled my judgement when it came to this book. I apologize if I’ve seemed insensitive to the subject, my opinions are reserved to the book only, and have no bearing on any real-life situations.