Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What She Knew Book Review

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

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Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Review by Brittany:

I decided to one-click this one on Amazon after reading the blurb.

One thing I love about this book is that the reader gets to see the story from a few different points of view. One is from Rachel, Ben's mother, and the struggles she deals with while trying to figure out where Ben is and having to wait for news. She struggles with guilt over his disappearance and slowly develops more guilt over the way she's been behaving since Ben's father, John, left them and got remarried. The other character whose point of view the reader gets to see is Jim Clemo, a DI on Ben's case. While Rachel shows the more human side of what's going on, Jim gives us a chance to see the more technical side of a kidnapping case, including the pieces of information and suspicions that officers often have to keep to themselves.

Rachel ended up being a bit of an unreliable character, to the point where I had a hard time trusting her feelings about anything. While I believed from the beginning that she was innocent, she seemed unstable and like she was a bit of a worrisome character. There were times when I thought to myself, "Oh can you please just drop it?" Of course, that's me lacking a bit of empathy for Rachel's situation, but I think it was also designed to be that way by the author to shed doubt on Rachel as a character.

After his experiences on the case, Jim is seeing a psychologist because his department is requiring him to. There are parts of the book that script his visits with her, and these help to humanize him as well. It also gives Jim's character a chance to reflect on events that happened and to foreshadow things that are coming, which kept me hooked.

I don't feel like this is a book where the ending is easy to guess. There weren't a lot of clues until the very end, which is the moment when it is all revealed. I spent a lot of the book going back and forth on who I thought had done it and felt surprised when it all came out.

If you're looking for a book that will keep you turning pages, this is an excellent one. Rachel's struggles on a personal level and Jim's struggles professionally make this novel one that I think is definitely worth reading.

Notable quotes:

People have an almost compulsive need to justify themselves.

Trust is like that. Once you lose it, you begin to adjust your attitudes toward people, you put up guards, and filter the information you want them to know.

But here's the thing: none of us deserve anything.