William Morrow, 2010
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
What it's about
Eliza Benedict has been living a quiet life with her family for the past twenty years. She has left her past behind her--until Walter Bowman writes her from prison. He has only a few months until he is put to death and he wants to talk with her. Forced to relive the summer she was fifteen and Walter kidnapped, Eliza begins to realize that her life and her family have never been as safe and unknown as she had thought. How did he find her and has he changed? Why does he want to speak with her now? The story is told through present day narratives and flashbacks to 1985 when Eliza was kidnapped.
The flashbacks were told from both Walter's perspective and from Eliza's perspective. They were the best parts. The voices of both characters (Walter as a young man and Elizabeth, as she was known at age 15) were very grounded and believable. The details and clarity from both characters during the flashbacks made those parts shine.
The Not-so Good
Although the voices of the younger characters were well done, I can't say the same about the rest of the book. First, let's talk about Eliza--present day Eliza. In the first section of the book we hear only from her in the present. All other voices are from the past. This is unfortunate because her voice isn't strong and it's often taken over by snippets of her husband, daughter, or son. I was pulled out of the story multiple times trying to figure out who was doing what. Perhaps it's because Eliza has let her husband and kids take over so much of who she is. This is suggested near the end of the book, but at that point I had been struggling with it throughout the entire book. It only served as a band aid to cover up the problem.
Another issue I had was about half way through we were suddenly introduced to the point of views of other characters with whom we had barely come in contact. Some were important to the story, but did they warrant their own perspectives? I don't think so. Most were completely unnecessary.
Quite a lot of this book could have been cut out. I was never truly concerned for Eliza or her family during the present time, but I felt that I should have been. During the flashbacks I was concerned but then those stopped. I ended up finishing it only to see if Eliza would confront Walter.
Overall, it was a disappointment. I had expected more of a thriller or mystery but I didn't really get either.
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