I’m excited that, starting in late 2017 and 2018, I’m reading more mysteries and thrillers. I’ve found some great ones, and some that were less of a hit for me. In the case of this book, a comparison to Big Little Lies and Stranger Things was … a bit of a stretch. Read my review of If I Die Tonight below!
To be published on March 6, 2018 by William Morrow
Source: eARC from publisher for possible review
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben—with a dose of Big Little Lies or Stranger Things—an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense. Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station—and lives are changed forever. Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help. As a boy’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?
The case quickly consumes social media.Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets—and the lengths we’ll go to protect ourselves.
My review of If I Die Tonight:
There were things I did like and appreciate about If I Die Tonight. First, that it was a book that looked at life and parenting in the internet age. A main character in the story is a single mother with two sons, one in high school and one in middle school. She watches her sons glued to their phones and feels like she’s lost all connection to them. There’s also a lonely female police officer who uses Tinder to meet guys, and a former 80s singer who witnessed the accident. Plus other teen characters who are included through social media postings. I thought the story did a good job of showing how social media both unites and divides us, and how fake and unhelpful it can be in the face of a tragedy like this.
If I Die Tonight was a mystery of sorts – the story starts off with a hit and run accident and the book gives you bits and pieces about how each character was involved. The narrative switches around from the POV of the mom to each of her sons to the police officer to the witness of the hit and run.
I really wish the story had evoked more tension and suspense. Yes, the hit and run was a tragedy, but from the get-go it also seemed like a tragic accident, not murder. I felt mildly curious about the circumstances, but I didn’t find any of it compelling as I would have liked. I kept reading just to find out the ending (was tempted to just skip ahead and peek, but I didn’t.) I thought the wrap-up was fairly strong, but it felt like a long time getting there.
Despite the fact that the story and its characters were well-written, I just didn’t feel much connection to or investment in any of it. I should have – I’m a parent of teens and think a LOT about the ways technology has made their lives so different from mine. It’s possible that this book had too many POV characters for me, or that the whole story had an air of detachment that kept me at an emotional distance.
I’d never heard of this author or read any of her books before this one, but I did see some reviewers on Goodreads say that they prefer her earlier books. So I’m definitely open to checking those out to see if they use a different narrative format, because this one was a bit of a miss for me.
Have you read this or any of this author’s other books? Let me know in comments! Do you have the same issue I do with multiple narrators?
Happy Friday! Welcome to the Freebie Friday February ARC Grab Bag!
First off, sorry that things have been quiet around here this week. I had a week of books I didn’t feel excited to talk about and then a migraine, so I took a few days off. (You can always find my unfiltered thoughts on what I’ve been reading on Goodreads, if you’re interested…)
But I’m back here now, feeling better and ready to do another grab bag. I was so excited that last week’s winner found something she’d been dying to read in the bag… and now there are…
New February ARCS in the Grab Bag 🙂
Enter below for a chance to win. Now through Tuesday, February 13. US/Canada mailing addresses only due to postage costs!
NEW YA BOOKS RELEASING NOVEMBER 14-20 – CHECK THEM ALL OUT BELOW!
Happy Book Birthday aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Indie authors, I’m happy to include indie titles if you shoot me an email with at a week or two notice.
Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.
Happy Friday! Today I have two January ARCs up for grabs.
Enter the Winter ARC Grab Bag below.
US/Canada mailing addresses only, please! Full giveaway rules below (scroll all the way down).
Hope you have a wonderful weekend – what are you reading? I’m starting Heart of Iron and hope I love it!
I thought Amber Smith’s (2016) The Way I Used to Be was a really strong book, so I had high hopes for her second.
Check out my review of The Last To Let Go below!
To be published by Margaret McElderry Books on February 6, 2018
Source: eARC from the publisher for review
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads): How do you let go of something you’ve never had? Brooke Winters’ junior year is going to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind. But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when she arrives home one day to find the police at her house. Now Brooke and her two siblings are on their own. In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.
My review of The Last to Let Go:
I thought highly of Amber Smith’s first book, The Way I Used to Be, an unflinching story about a girl who’s been raped.
The Last to Let Go tackles an equally tough subject: domestic violence. Brooke knows that her father has a terrible temper, but when she arrives home one day to find the police at her house, she’s filled with dread. I actually edited the synopsis above to preserve some suspense about what happened … but it’s not good.
This violent event leaves Brooke and her two siblings left without a parent to care for them. Brooke and her older brother try to cope, while their younger sister, who witnessed the event, has stopped speaking completely.
Smith’s books are interesting in that they focus more on the aftermath of a terrible event than the event itself.
Like Eden in The Way I Used to Be, Brooke tries to cope by keeping the tragedy secret from her friends at her new school and pushing aside well-meaning adults who want to help.
Another interesting aspect of The Last to Let Go is that it shows how the three siblings cope differently. Eden tries desperately to pretend things can be “normal.” Her brother just wants to flee from it all. And their sister frustrates them by refusing to say exactly what happened.
The Last to Let Go is a dark book that doesn’t try to pretend that there is a magic fix for years and even generations of dysfunction in Brooke’s family. It does give Brooke some unlikely allies: a grandmother she never knew, a therapist she tries to avoid, and a new friend who wants to be more than that to Brooke.
Highly recommended to fans of contemporary YA. If you loved Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree, you need to read this!