Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: "Where They Found Her" by Kimberly McCreight

The body of an infant has been found near a creek on the campus of Ridgedale University. No one knows whose baby this was, who killed the baby, and, of course, why someone would have done such a terrible thing. Molly Sanderson, a freelance journalist who has mainly covered the arts, lifestyle, and human interest beat for the Ridgedale Reader finds herself assigned to cover the story, and she is unprepared for the toll it will take on her psyche.

Following the loss of her second baby, Molly suffered a near-nervous breakdown, which took a toll on her marriage and her ability to care for her other daughter, who was still quite young. And although she was able to overcome this deep depression, and her husband's job at Ridgedale has given them a chance for a fresh start, this story—and the memories it unearths—has the potential to tear open wounds that time has healed. While she knows inherently she should give up the story, and her husband all but begs her to turn it over to another reporter, Molly is determined to get to the bottom of the story in the hopes it may provide some closure for her. As Molly begins to uncover a series of secrets many people in power would prefer to leave hidden, she finds herself getting entangled in a web where many people's behavior appears suspect, including several people she knows well.

Where They Found Her is narrated not only by Molly, but two additional, very different women, each with a linkage to the story. Sandy, a high school dropout desperate to right her life and find the correct path for her future, is forced to play parent for her tremendously immature and undependable mother. And Barbara, the wife and mother determined to have the "perfect" life, is haunted both by memories she hoped she'd never have to deal with again, and problems faced by both of her children.

There is no such thing as the "perfect" community, or the "perfect" family. But Ridgedale has more than its share of secrets and dysfunction. And Molly is determined to find out where all of the paths converge, especially if she can figure out what happened to the baby, and who she belonged to, no matter what it does to her, her life, and her relationships in the process.

As I was reading Kimberly McCreight's new book, I found myself wondering which alternative I like better: a book in which you figure out what is going to happen before it is revealed, or a book that introduces so many possible solutions you haven't a clue what is going to happen. I think I prefer the latter, in which category this book definitely falls. McCreight definitely keeps you guessing, and her writing is taut and compelling. If I had any criticism of this book, it's that there are a lot of characters to keep straight, not all of them likable, so when the characters I didn't care much about narrated the book or appeared in the story, I wasn't as interested as I was otherwise. However, on the whole, this was a very interesting and suspenseful read, more so than I imagined, even though I figured out part of the plot.

McCreight is a really talented writer. Her first book, Reconstructing Amelia, was one of my favorite books of 2013. If you like mysteries with a lot of emotion, give either of her books a try.

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