REVIEW: THE GOOD GIRL, BY MARY KUBICA

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When Mia Dennett, a 25-year-old art teacher, mysteriously disappears, her family has varied reactions. Her father James, the judge, who is filled with his own self-importance and has never gotten along with Mia, thinks she is just doing what Mia does, moving to the beat of her own drum. But Eve, the mother, is worried. She knows that, in spite of some times during her teens when she acted out, Mia is responsible…and good.

Eve first learns of her disappearance when one of Mia’s colleagues calls after she doesn’t show up for work…and that fact is concerning, as Mia is responsible about her work. Even though Mia has her own apartment and doesn’t see her family often, she does talk to her mother. Her estrangement from her father and older sister seems to be more about them and their idea of who she should be. Image, money, and power drive them, while Mia is drawn to creative pursuits.

Gabe Hoffman is the detective who responds, and the one who will follow along with them through the investigation. His persistence and ability to seek answers makes him heroic, in Eve’s eyes. She comes to rely on him when her husband is increasingly more self-involved and remote.

Mia’s older sister Grace, an attorney, is seemingly detached, as if she could care less.

In an interesting back and forth style, we follow the main players in this drama. They tell the story from their perspectives, and we can see where we are in the time frame by the titles of each chapter, like “Eve: Before,” or “Eve: After.”

We know right away that Mia has been found at some point, because in Eve’s and Gabe’s “after” sections, she is with them in the present. But not really there. Something has wiped out her memory of events.

Colin is another narrator, and we learn the most from his perspective about what is happening to Mia while she is away. We see the two of them in the remote Minnesota log cabin and watch as Mia and Colin grow closer, in a Stockholm Syndrome fashion…and in these sections, I worried about what would ultimately happen. Something traumatic occurs in those final moments in the cabin that will take many months and several subsequent events to set Mia free.

Short chapters that bring the reader increasingly closer to the final denouement kept me rapidly turning pages and marveling at how the story forms and ultimately brings us our answers. A startling reveal near the end did not really surprise me, as I had suspicions about this character. But then, in an epilogue from Mia’s perspective, the final twist totally stunned me. And made The Good Girl a 5 star read for me.

***

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