REVIEW: WHEN I WAS YOU, BY MINKA KENT

After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence.

But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why, Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger.

What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.

From the very first page of When I Was You, I was drawn in and invested in what might happen next. The beginning part of the novel was in the first-person narrative of Brienne, and I kept reading long into the night. When the narrative switched to Niall’s voice, the thriller aspect reared itself big time.

Who are these characters? What is really happening? It is clear that our characters and their stories are not at all what we believed them to be.

To avoid spoilers, I will leave the plot there. Suffice it to say that I was captivated and intrigued. As each narrator took over, alternating over time, I was on the edge of my seat. While each one was believable, I knew who was reliable right away. A five star read.

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REVIEW: THE DATE, BY LOUISE JENSEN

 

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognizable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognize the face staring back at her…

My Thoughts: I was immediately drawn in by The Date, from Ali’s Sunday morning that began with no memory of the night before, and moved on to her inability to recognize herself in the mirror, her body covered by bruises, and the blood showing up on assorted items. At the hospital, her diagnosis of facial blindness would add another layer of stress to what has already turned into a horrifying series of events. It isn’t long before Ali begins receiving threatening and taunting notes, with strange items, all suggesting that she has done something terrible. Her rock throughout is her younger brother Ben, as the two of them had survived a childhood trauma together.

I couldn’t imagine how it could get even worse, but as the story sweeps between the past and the present, we slowly come to realize that current events are just the tip of the iceberg. Ali’s childhood trauma and what led to her changing her name hint at why someone is able to terrorize her with threats that she has done something horrible.

Paranoia and guilt follow her everywhere, which accompany her sense of vulnerability about not recognizing faces. Imagine being terrified that someone is following you, reminding you of the past, but when you can’t identify the enemy, everyone becomes untrustworthy. Even your roommate, who is now missing. A video that shows you pushing the roommate might mean you did something to her. Ali’s fears ratchet up with each new strange set of circumstances.

At first, I thought the date with the online person named “Ewan” was behind everything, but eventually more possibilities surface. Red herrings kept me rapidly turning pages, trying to figure out who is behind everything that is happening to Ali, and what, if anything, she has done that will lead to an arrest…or worse. I was stunned by the final reveal, as just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was blindsided. 5 stars.

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