REVIEW: I FOUND YOU, BY LISA JEWELL

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel.

MY THOUGHTS: 

Almost immediately, I was caught up into the life of Alice Lake and the man she finds on the beach. She is drawn to him, even though her best friend Derry warns her that he could be dangerous. But Alice, an artist, and someone who doesn’t necessarily follow a conventional path, is willing to take the risk. She feels something special in this man.The children are wary at first, but soon, even the dogs have befriended him. They call him Frank.

Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, we watch as a woman named Lily, a newly-wed in a London suburb, desperately tries to find Carl, her missing husband.

Flashing back to 1993, a story unfolds involving Gray and Kirsty Ross, and a handsome rich boy named Mark Tate, who quickly turns from charming to frightening. Each time we flash back, more of the mysterious puzzle pieces fit together.

What is the connection, if any, between these seemingly unrelated characters? Are the events in the present day a surreal coincidence, or might there be a tie between them?

I Found You was a riveting tale that kept me engaged, and even as I thought I had figured out the mysteries and the connections, I was only partially correct. I liked the ending, which felt hopeful. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: REMEMBER MIA, BY ALEXANDRA BURT

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There is something profoundly troubling to me about Remember Mia.  A missing baby, a car accident, amnesia…all of these events are seen from the perspective of an unreliable narrator.  A woman probably suffering from Postpartum Depression, possibly even a psychosis. If we see the other characters from Estella’s view, they are very sinister, or at the very least, annoying.  Her husband Jack is so annoying as to be someone I might suspect of nefarious deeds.  Yes, he is cold, he is detached, and he is critical…from her view.  Then there are the various construction workers at the house where she lives, all alone, with a baby who never stops crying.  And the constant criticism she gets from her husband, from the neighbors, and from almost anyone she encounters.

But no matter what we may wonder about “Amnesia Mom,” as the press has dubbed her, because she was in a car accident with a gunshot wound and no memory of events, we must ask certain questions: Who, if anyone, took the baby?  Why was every evidence that a baby had even lived there missing, too?  And who can we trust?  And finally, if Jack was so concerned about Estella’s state of mind, why did he set her up in a construction zone, literally, while he went to another city?

Committed to a psychiatric facility, Estella and her doctor slowly work to recover her memories. And when that happens, will there be a happy ending? The long, tedious journey kept me rapidly turning pages, my heart in my throat, hoping for answers. A book I could not put down, and despite my feelings about many of the characters, especially Jack, I felt a kind of peace at the unexpected conclusion. The middle section, and the psychiatric sessions were a little frustrating, especially since events flipped back and forth between the past and the present. In the end, however, I was glad I slogged my way through. 4.0 stars.