Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go

A debut psychological thriller marketed as the next Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train from Berkley, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go is a novel that demands your attention. With so many people talking about a HUGE twist, I was intrigued. And, when an advanced copy landed in my inbox, it quickly moved to the top of my reading list.

The novel opens on a rainy afternoon, as a mother and her son are crossing the street in front of their house. The boy slips out of his mother’s grasp and, in one life-shattering moment, is hit and killed by a car that turns and quickly flees the scene. Leaving the mother in the street huddled over her child’s lifeless body.

But who was behind the wheel?

Following Jenna Gray – a woman who leaves her life behind for one in a remote Welsh town – and the officers investigating the boy’s murder, I Let You Go is a brilliant novel that leaves you on the edge of your seat until the final page. As the police come closer to finding the driver, we see Jenna trying to move on from a past that keeps resurfacing.

The novel is at once heartbreaking and satisfying, and the HUGE twist that they promise comes along in the middle of the novel and does not disappoint. I was left speechless with my jaw on the floor, desperate to keep turning the pages and not stopping until I had reached the conclusion.

Berkley 2016. Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (YA)

If you’re looking for a novel that will grip you in a new way, then you should pick up Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  Published in 2007, the novel tells the story of Hannah Baker, only, she’s not your ordinary main character because Hannah Baker is already dead, having committed suicide a few weeks before the novel takes place.  Even though Hannah is technically dead, she is very much alive throughout the novel, by way of cassette tapes that she recorded prior to committing suicide.  Those tapes, containing the thirteen reasons why she chose to kill herself are mailed to students from her school – ones that each make up a reason.  The other main character is Clay Jensen.  The story takes place entirely in one night, while Clay listens to the tapes and relives the events with Hannah, some that he had known about, but most that he had not, while desperately trying to figure out where he fits in, and who already knows about him.

Although many of Hannah’s reasons seem to be minute and not reason why someone would choose to end their own life, you can feel the events and reasons adding up in her head and you witness her point of no return.  Told in a dual narration between Hannah’s tapes and Clay’s present – his reaction to the tapes and the journey he goes on – it is definitely unique.  Hannah and Clay’s stories are going on simultaneously, and the only way to determine who is narrating is by the typeface: if it’s italic or normal.

This is really a book that any parent, teacher or librarian should read.  Also, any teenager who is having a hard time in school, or is thinking about committing suicide, because I feel like this book can really help save people.  It can help those in pain to realize that their thoughts aren’t normal, and that they need to reach out for help before it is too late.  Teenage suicide is preventable.

A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife

Referred to as this year’s Gone Girl, of which I cannot draw comparison seeing as how I’ve never read the former, A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife is anything but your ordinary thriller.  Told in an alternating duel narrative with chapters labeled “him” and “her,” the reader is thrown into the deteriorating relationship of Todd and Jodi: Todd is a serial cheater and Jodi lives mostly in denial.  We are told that Todd becomes the victim of a murder.  We are also told that Jodi is the one who kills him.  We know the end, but what we don’t know are the details leading up to it, or, for that matter, the details of the murder itself…which makes for an interesting story.  With every page I turned, I found myself constantly trying to put the pieces together, but it was not until it was actually happening that I knew.

Jodi and Todd had been together for twenty years, living in a spacious two-floor condo with a waterfront view as man and wife, only they had never actually gotten married.  Todd had proposed to Jodi multiple times, but due to a fear that stemmed from her childhood, she never said yes…a fact which later on in the novel she comes to regret.  Todd owns a real estate development business, making most of the money in the household; he owns the condo that they live in and supports Jodi.  Jodi works part-time as a psychotherapist, seeing patients in her home, making up funny names for them like Miss Piggy.  Through the years that Todd and Jodi have been together, Todd has strayed for the occasional affair but he has always come back.  Jodi has been aware of these, but since she seeks to avoid confrontation at all costs, has never brought up her knowledge to him (although Todd knows that she knows), instead choosing to punish him in different ways, as we are witness to one of these in the beginning of the novel.  Todd’s newest affair however, turns out to be the beginning of the end for him and Jodi, when Natasha, a young twenty-something devises a way to keep Todd in her life for good: she becomes pregnant.

The situation wouldn’t have become as complicated as it did if Natasha wasn’t the daughter of Todd’s best friend Dean (Jodi and Todd had literally watched Natasha grow up), and if Natasha wasn’t so controlling.  While I have yet to pick out a favorite character in this novel, she is definitely not on my short list.  Natasha is an instigator, constantly demanding things of Todd, the first and foremost of which is to marry her and pay for an expensive wedding complete with couture brides-maid gowns. I love fashion, but one has to ask the question, is that really necessary?  I think not.  Had Todd lived (because we know that he doesn’t live happily-ever-after), could Natasha have been exactly what he needed to settle down for good?  Probably not.  As the novel progresses, Natasha becomes more and more unreasonable, and I think that it was only a matter of time before he would start another affair and go back to Jodi.

Aside from a slow beginning, and a few awkwardly written sessions of Jodi with a therapist she had to see as part of her training (and I say awkwardly written because it’s structured like dialogue in a play, which seems a bit off-putting for a novel…at least to me), A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife will have you guessing until the very end.