This is a thriller that I’ve been seeing in all the libraries and bookstores. And yes, as per the usual, I decided to try it out and see whether it lives up to the hype.
And this time, it does.
Summary (Goodreads): How far does the apple really fall from the tree?
Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.
But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.
When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.
Review: I’m going to start with a trigger warning – there are instances of abuse, murder, and some horrific bullying in this novel. This novel is really not for the faint of heart because it deals with very sensitive topics.
The story starts off slow, with Milly telling us that she has turned in her mother and is being fostered by a psychologist who will be helping her prep for the trial. Right off the bat, I loved Milly’s voice. It’s choppy sentencing, but done right. The short sentences convey so much emotion and I can feel Milly’s troubling thoughts, her inability to live with her guilt, and her struggle to separate her identity from her mother’s. Even though it was slow-going, I really enjoyed how the author drew out the story and made the readers really understand Milly.
Not only is Milly facing the trial, she is also being severely bullied by her foster sister. This aspect actually made the story more of a teen read rather than an adult read, but the extent and cruelty of the bullying still makes this a hard read. I could never imagine bullying to be this terrible … but that’s wishful thinking. Bullying happens, in schools and in workplaces, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the bullying scenarios in the book are similar to what actually happens in real life. Every time I read what Milly was going through at the school, I felt chills. A part of me knew that Milly wasn’t just a meek girl. She was silent, but she was watching. I loved that the author made me feel sympathy for her but also tempered it by making me fear her a little.
For most of the book, we are shown these bullying aspects. At times, I wished to know more about the trial and the circumstances that led to Milly confessing to the cops about her mother. But the story eventually gets around to that. It was definitely worth the wait, and while it was predictable, it was done very well and I could feel the emotions that Milly was feeling.
I had only one problem with this novel, and this is the reason my rating went down. An incident happens in the story and Milly and the foster family must band together for it. This instance, while something predictable, was put together in a very awkward and abrupt way, and made for a very weird transition in the story. After all the time the author put in to develop the other details of the story, this lack of a proper segue was a bit disappointing. It also made the story lose some of its believability, which is a characteristic I think is very important in a book. The ending was also very abrupt because of this.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It gave me chills and it had me feeling all the feels for Milly. I just wish it had ended in a cleaner way. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 4/5 stars!