The Child

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As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn house by house into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women and torn between what she can and cannot tell.

The Child by Fiona Barton

Publication Date: June 27, 2017 by Berkley Books

Goodreads

Beer Pairing: Harpoon Citra Sea IPA


My Thoughts:

I’m a bit conflicted about my feelings regarding this book. Perhaps this is partly because of my expectations going into it (I absolutely LOVED Barton’s debut novel, The Widow). Much like The Widow, I enjoyed Barton’s writing style and her complicated, female characters. I think what was different about The Child is that while the chapters transitioned quickly between different points of view, the book as a whole moved at a much slower pace.

While I appreciate Barton’s storytelling and ability to slowly reveal all the hidden layers beneath what “seems” to be a simple crime investigation, I enjoy her characterization the most. All of the women in The Child are complicated individuals and Barton is skillful in both character development and deception – even when I thought I understood a character’s motives, Barton manages to instill enough doubt to make the reader question what is really true.

Dangerous to think you know too much, sometimes, because who really knows someone else? You can scratch the skin, but you never get to the meat of someone else. Into their bones.

While not as fast-paced as her first novel, The Child is a smart, suspenseful crime thriller and I’m excited to see what Fiona Barton writes next!

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Lucky You

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Three women, early twenties, find themselves aimlessly adrift in Erika Carter’s fierce and darkly funny debut novel, Lucky You. Ellie, Chloe and Rachel are friends (sort of); waitresses at the same tired bar in the Arkansas college town they’ve stuck around in too long. Each is becoming unmoored in her own way: Ellie obliterates all feeling with alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity; Chloe pulls out patches of her hair and struggles to keep incipient mental illness at bay; changeable Rachel has fallen under the sway of a messianic boyfriend with whom she’s agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to “health” and asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in “The Project”. In a remote, rural house in the Ozarks, nearly undone by boredom and the brewing tension between them, each tries to solve the conundrum of being alive.

Lucky You by Erika Carter

Publication Date: March 14, 2017 by Counterpoint Press

Goodreads


My Thoughts:

Sometimes a book doesn’t need a plot with a clear trajectory, likable characters, or a neat ending. In fact, I tend to prefer the opposite of all of those things as long as the writing style suits me. Luckily for me (HA, pun intended) Carter’s debut novel fits the bill.

Carter’s three main characters (Ellie, Chloe, and Rachel) are not necessarily likable, but they’re far from despicable. All three are damaged in their own way and despite attempts to escape their bad habits, it’s clear that they can’t outrun themselves. While the book splits its time between all three women, Ellie is focused on a little more heavily which is what made it easier to relate to her struggle the most. While not suffering from any of the same surface-level issues that these three have, I could easily relate to their feelings of restlessness and that constant itch for contentment that always seems slightly out of reach.

Once Chloe had told her that every seven years the body is made of entirely new material. It made Rachel look into her hands, the network of pink lines in her palms, the blue veins in her wrists, and wonder Who am I really?

I particularly loved the middle section of the book and Carter’s descriptions of their time spent at the house in the Ozark mountains. As their year together progresses, the hidden feelings of tension bubble to the surface when it’s clear that it will take more than just a change of scenery for Chloe, Ellie, and Rachel to deal with their problems. These specific chapters really did a lot to strengthen the internal narratives and characterization of the three women.

While the ending is in many ways open-ended, it is far from despondent and while it’s obvious that all three women are still far from making drastic changes to their lives, there’s a sense of hope in Ellie’s narrative that they still have plenty of time to figure their shit out and that they aren’t doomed to repeating an endless cycle of mistakes.