True to my word, I did not try to compare this novel to Gone Girl, even though the title gave me the opportunity to do so; all the author needed to do was add the word “girl” to the end of her title (okay, not a funny joke, but it made me laugh in my head)! It was a relatively short book but it is packed with so much emotion and twists that it felt way more substantive!
13-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. The only witness for this event is her younger sister, Jane. The family is shattered by this event, but manage to stick together, hoping for Julie’s safe return. 8 years later, the family is trying to stay strong and move on. But then, one night, the doorbell rings. A young woman who looks like Julie is standing there, looking exhausted and broken. The family is ecstatic, their long-lost daughter has returned home – but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts. These doubts only grow louder when she is contacted by a PI who voices his suspicions over the identity of the young woman they have welcomed home. Anna must now search for the tortuous truth and determine whether this girl is the daughter she has been waiting for.
This novel…. where do I begin? The story mainly focuses on Anna and “Julie”; the rest of the family are still present but they take a backseat here. While there are quite a few people who have complained about that, I actually quite liked that there was a limit to how many characters I was required to focus on, especially as the story became more convoluted. And I mean convoluted in a good way… if that even makes sense. The story switches between Anna, who is going through the present-day events, and “Julie” with her many different personas, who is recounting all of the things that have happened to her in the past 8 years that she has been missing. At times, trying to keep the story straight can be a challenge, but it was still executed so well and kept me engrossed. As I kept reading, I was overwhelmed by all of the emotions. The pain that every family member felt was so strong, and I could sense it in every word, and action. Every family member may not have been represented as much in the story, but their emotions were aptly shown. Just reading about the experiences that “Julie” has gone through was heart-breaking, and I almost cried. Not only did this story deliver in the amount of unexpected twists, it also sent me on an emotional rollercoaster. At the end of the novel, I was exhausted by the journey… and was astounded by the quality of the work and the caliber of this author. All in all, this was a great novel that tugs at your heart while also playing on your sense of paranoia, as you try to piece together the truth behind Julie’s identity.