When She Returned

By Lucinda Berry

PUBLICATION DATE: October 15, 2019
PUBLISHER: Thomas & Mercer

Where to Purchase: 
Amazon
/ Barnes and Noble /  Book Depository 

RATING:


3.5 out of 5 Sherlocks

** I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer. All opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by receiving this book for free. **

Synopsis

(From Goodreads)

One woman’s reappearance throws her family into turmoil, exposing dark secrets and the hidden, often devastating truth of family relationships.

     Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

      Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down—her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

     While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

Review

     When I read the synopsis for this book on NetGalley I instantly was interested in reading it. As a trauma survivor, I am always interested in stories that involve some type of trauma experience. I was even more intrigued because I read the author’s bio to the book and the author has worked with individuals that have psychological trauma, so I thought she might be able to capture many of the elements that a less experienced author may miss. Berry captures almost too masterfully the experiences of someone returning from a traumatic experience. She holds tight to the realities of these types of experiences that she seems to forget an important element , which is that this is still a work of fiction.

     The book has three points-of-view. Each is a female centered around the main action of the story. One perspective is largely told from the “past” viewpoint, but the other two are squarely in the “now” of the story. The “past” perspective is of the character Kate, who has been missing for over a decade. The other two perspectives are Abbi, Kate’s daughter, and Meredith, Kate’s stepmother. The perspective I felt kept me most captured into the story was Meredith’s viewpoint. Meredith’s viewpoint added a perspective that was needed. The character that you sympathized with in a different way than “my mom has returned. Can we have a relationship” that was largely the perspective of Abbi. Meredith was, to me, by far a more sympathetic character, maybe surprisingly, than the other two. Throughout much of the book she is fairly supportive of her husband and the fact that his first wife is back from what everyone thought was the dead. She continued to be sympathetic throughout the book, in my opinion. Even though a few moments other readers may have thought she wasn’t. The perspective that I felt less engaged with was that of Abbi. This was because the character was predictable, but that can be nice when there were two perspectives that were almost anything but predictable. Abbi provided the necessary grounding to the story that could have been lost without it.  Kate’s perspective I am not going to delve into because touching upon it would unravel plot points that I do not want to do. Yes, telling you almost anything about it would start to give you too much insight to her part of all of this because it heavily focuses on the “past” that I mentioned.

The plot of this book was very on the nose for the story that Berry was writing. Sometimes too on the nose. The beauty of a fiction book is that you can add elements that are not true for everyone facing trauma. You can add in elements that you could not otherwise. Berry holds too tight to the realities of trauma and what happens when someone survives the exact circumstances that Kate has. This clinging to the realities creates an ending that is unsatisfying, but realistic. The ending was probably the biggest issue for me. I saw it coming, but I didn’t want to see that ending coming. I was hoping that Berry would surprise me, but she did not. She kept true to the trauma, which is why I felt that I could not rate the book higher. I will say though, I would read more from Lucinda Berry. I think she is a gifted writer, which will only get better as she finds the balance between reality and fiction to incorporate into a novel. She needs to feel less like a journalist and more of a novelist. When Berry does this, I know she is going to be even stronger than she is here. I am looking forward to this authors future. I think she has a beautiful writing future ahead of her.

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