“A secret can be as bad as a lie.”
- Book: Someone Else’s Daughter
- Location: Long Island, New York City (NYC)
- Author: Jennifer Harvey
Okay! Where to begin with this one?
You really need to read the whole of my review, to get into context points I might make in the first few lines, as this is definitely one of those stories which takes each reader on their own individual experience.
I am quite laid back and eclectic in my choice of reading genres, so I will often take a premise at face value and just see where the story takes me. I’m not sure that for me this one was so much a thriller, as a mystery, albeit one with some very dark and troubling undertones. However that was fine by me!
Someone Else’s daughter, had everything I look for in an interesting, engrossing and page-turning read. There was a good strong opening to the story, there were plenty of elements of mystery and intrigue in the core storyline, together with some deep and meaningful narrative and dialogue. The ending was maybe not quite so definitive as I generally like, but given that I had compiled quite a list of options for the finale, I was never going to be disappointed.
I did enjoy Jennifer’s considered writing style, and although I might agree with some other readers, that the narrative and dialogue was all very ‘English’ in its delivery and maybe a little out of keeping with the book’s US location, that didn’t really worry me too much. I’m not a fan of ‘Is all’ being included in the dialogue, at the end of almost every other sentence, however that again is simply a personal consideration and did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of the book and the author’s ability to write an addictive, character driven storyline, which flowed along nicely and was very fluid.
The emotionally draining storyline was a real slow-burner affair, told in alternating, short chapters, between mother and daughter, Louise and Katie. Although intensely sad throughout, it was definitely not a tear-jerker read for me, more a portent of the impending darkness and sorrow to come. There was no real ‘action’ in this deeply dark and brooding story, with even the first tragedy when it happened, being an almost subdued and rather understated affair. However the intense and highly charged narrative and dialogue between characters made the journey more than worthwhile, offering an in depth and meaningful glimpse into the lives of the entire cast. I could have been present yet unseen, at any of the story locations, or listening in on any of the conversations, such was the descriptive quality of the writing.
This was very much a gripping, yet frustrating story of selfish, controlling and self-absorbed human intent, emotions and feelings, which was pretty much all that held these two families clinging together and functioning on a daily level, although even then this was a very shaky foundation, liable to crumbling any minute, with simply a wrong look or word.
Holiday romances and vicious vengeful squabbles, illicit and inappropriate affairs, untold questionable decisions and false friendships, all lead to the door of a second tragic event, which will have reverberating and guilty repercussions for everyone involved and which will last and haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The complex characters were all well developed, although pretty much exclusively, all detestable in their own way and definitely not easy to connect with. Certainly none of them were particularly likeable, either as individuals and definitely not, in the case of the adults, as parents! The rebellious youngsters were also a very troubled and largely ignored group of individuals, fuelled by false friendships, all trying to find their way in life, without the support and encouragement of their elders, who were most definitely not role models who led by example.
It seemed as though everyone was caught up in the endless cycle of the tit for tat, retaliatory, blame game, as a way of deflecting attention away from themselves, their own shortcomings, their deceitful and attention seeking behaviour, self-pity and lies; all of which ultimately led to their self-inflicted downfall and demise into dark places of their own making. I just wanted to shake most of them, to try and wake them from their almost catatonic stupor and force them into the real world, where not everything revolved around them and how terrible their lives were.
When families have gone so far down the road of self destruction and laid bare so many emotions and deep divisions, is there really any way to wake from the nightmare?
All in all, an excellent debut novel and a good solid writing style to build on, which I found particularly perceptive in the power of characterisation and human behaviour.
I look forward to reading more of Jennifer’s books in the future.