Published by Wattpad Books (17th September 2019)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Wattpad Books, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
THIS REVIEW POSSIBLY CONTAINS SPOILERS SO READ AHEAD AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION
Griffin Tomlin is dead. That’s what the cop cars were doing at the Tomlin’s house that morning. And Clara’s sister killed him. Months after Emily Porterfield has been arrested and is in jail awaiting the murder trial, Clara is trying to get back to some semblance of normal life. However, she finds this difficult, as she believes that SHE is the reason Emily killed Griffin Tomlin. The guilt and the unstable reality that Clara finds herself in makes normality an impossibility, until Aniston, a girl at Clara’s school who writes for the school newspaper, comes to Clara asking questions about Emily and what happened. Clara begins to worry that her secret will be exposed, and she can’t have that. Pulling away from those that try and reach out to her, trying to deal with the fact that her father is in denial and still hasn’t forgiven her for being responsible for Emily’s arrest, and her mother’s inability to function in life as she digs away at a dead, frozen garden while she tries to pretend that everything is okay, she relives the past wondering what she did wrong. However, there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and the truth is terrifying. Will Clara be able to handle it?
Trigger Warnings: Rape, Abuse, Spousal Abuse, Murder, Mention of animal deaths.
I’ve had this book sitting on my Netgalley TBR pile for SO long. I’m not going to lie, I originally requested it because the premise sounded super interesting, then kept pushing it back further and further down my TBR pile because I was thinking that it was going to be a court room procedural type of story. I was super wrong. The story follows Clara as she tries to disappear into the ether after her sisters arrest. Griffin Tomlin was the town’s golden boy, she knows that, it’s possibly what attracted her to him so much. She was in love with him from the age of six years old, and her sister killed him. What she hasn’t told anyone, is that she knows WHY Emily killed Griffin. Her guilt over her feeling responsible for his death, as well as the fact that she feels like her sister stole him away from the town and his family and friends, is slowly but surely pushing her further down into a black pit of despair.
The narration jumps between the present to ‘before’ which is the events leading up to Griffin’s death. The reason why is slowly revealed to us as the past is told and begins to take shape very quickly. I already had a very strong feeling what the why was as I read a review for this book that spoke about the main theme of the novel, I’m not sure if I wish that I hadn’t read it and that the slow reveal was left to do it’s job, or if knowing didn’t really phase me. It’s a tough one. I want to put trigger warnings in this review because I feel like it is definitely needed, I just hope that they don’t take anything away from the story for anyone. I’m going to try and talk about stuff while trying to be as vague about it as possible.
I really felt for the character of Clara, though I will admit that she annoyed me at times. My annoyance was unprecedented though. Her reason of ‘why’ was a good one. I feel that the author really captured the feelings, thoughts and emotions of someone going through something like this ( I can only imagine as it hasn’t happened to me, and I feel so lucky for this). Her character really hit home. She was so naive, trusting and full of hope and it really reminded me of myself when I was younger. I look back at some instances and think how easily things could have gone wrong for me, but I feel like I had something watching over me, making sure that I was protected. I put myself into some stupid situations when I was younger, and I’m so glad that I cam out of them unscathed. They’re honestly nothing super outrageous, just situations that could have gone a different direction, hence changing my life forever, but they didn’t, and I’m here reminiscing about them and thinking about how lucky I was. I know some people who weren’t so lucky. And the guilt and fear and self loathing that the author portrayed through the character of Clara really illustrated that.
The story was well written though the narration at times seems a little juvenile, though I can understand why as the characters are around the 17 year old mark. The story itself, I felt, couldn’t surprise me, but it really did. There’s another story that is happening within the main plot, and I did not see it coming until just before the big reveal. This was an absolute page turner for me, I read it in a day pretty much. I stayed up WAY past my bed time, when I had work the next morning, just so I could finish it and see what happened next. It wasn’t just the big reveals and finding out the overall “why” in this story, for me, it was also wanting to see the reactions of the characters when they found out Clara’s why. I wanted to see how they handled the truth and what they did with it afterwards. And I was not disappointed.
I read another review that said the reader gave up quite early on in the story as they found it to be a little bit scooby-esque with the protagonist and her friends seemingly uncovering things that the police hadn’t. This isn’t entirely true, yes they found themselves following a line of thought and seemingly uncovering things the police had missed, but it wasn’t so.
I’m actually so annoyed that I waited so long to read this one. I was just thinking recently how I felt like I was in a bit of a book slump and that all my reads seemed to be 3 star or less at the moment. Then I finally decided to bite the bullet and get cracking on this one and I really enjoyed it.
If you want a book that deals with some hard issues, is a bit dark, stays true to the reality of the situation, has a mystery within a mystery and is just an enjoyable read, give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
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