Publisher: William Morrow, 2011
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Where I Got It: LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program
My Rating: 3 stars
This was the fifth book I read for the RIP VI Challenge. Because I don’t want to get too far behind writing these reviews, I’m reviewing all my RIP books by answering the 5Ws―Who, What, When, Where, Why. Plus I’ve included my patented Scare-O-Meter Rating system so you can decide if you can handle the level of fright induced by the book.
Scare-O-Meter Rating: 2 screams out of 10. It really wasn’t all that scary … or suspenseful … or that interesting. To be honest, it wasn’t all that good.
WHAT is this book about?
A group of childhood friends are reunited when one of them dies in a drunk driving accident. A secret from their past may have been a factor in their friend’s death, and they confront their shared past for the first time since losing touch years ago. Told from the point of view of the children and their parents, the book dips in and out of the past (circa 1977-1978) and the present, where the grown-up versions of the kids are struggling with problems and issues whose seeds were planted back in their childhoods.
WHO do we meet?
- Gwen is the fat girl turned swan who is trying to escape her unfulfilling marriage while dealing with her past. Her story is the heart of the book, and she is the primary narrator. She is nursing her elderly father in her childhood home, and confronting her past for the first time in many years.
- McKey (formerly Mickey) is a flight attendant who lives a carefree and commitment-free lifestyle, estranged from her mother and brother and everyone else from her past.
- the Halloran boys (cautious Sean, middling Tim and wild GoGo) round out the group of friends. The death of GoGo is the event that brings the former friends together and forces them—and their parents—to confront the realities of what happened that summer years ago.
- Tess Monaghan (a detective who has been featured in numerous Lippman books) makes a cameo appearance.
WHEN and WHERE does the book take place?
Like almost all of Lippman’s books, the setting takes place in Baltimore, with the narrative shifting between the present day and the events that happened in the late 1970s.
WHY should you read this book?
If I were you, I’d take a pass on this one and read one of Lippman’s other books (such as I’d Know You Anywhere or What The Dead Know or some of the Tess Monaghan books, which Jill at Rhapsody In Books has reviewed extensively). I thought Lippman stumbled badly with this book. Part of the problem was too much going on. Lippman attempts to work in viewpoints from multiple characters (all the kids AND their parents), and the result is that no one character is well-developed. I really didn’t feel invested in anyone, and the frequent jumps from character to character gave the book a fragmented feel. As soon as I started getting invested in a story line, the focus would shift and I’d lose the narrative thread. In addition, the “most dangerous thing” felt underdeveloped and got lost in the shuffle. By the end of the book, I was just going along to finish it up and be done with it. Although the book is readable and I found myself wanting to know more about various characters, I felt like the book could have used some more development and editing to make it come together as a cohesive whole. Although Lippman can write, this isn’t her best effort.
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