Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Girl Before

The Girl BeforeIn this powerful psychological suspense debut, when a woman’s life is shattered, she is faced with a devastating question: What if everything she thought was normal and good and true . . . wasn’t?

Clara Lawson is torn from her life in an instant. Without warning, her home is invaded by armed men, and she finds herself separated from her beloved husband and daughters. The last thing her husband yells to her is to say nothing.

In chapters that alternate between past and present, the novel slowly unpeels the layers of Clara’s fractured life. We see her growing up, raised with her sisters by the stern Mama and Papa G, becoming a poised and educated young woman, falling desperately in love with the forbidden son of her adoptive parents. We see her now, sequestered in an institution, questioned by men and women who call her a different name—Diana—and who accuse her husband of unspeakable crimes. As recollections of her past collide with new revelations, Clara must question everything she thought she knew, to come to terms with the truth of her history and to summon the strength to navigate her future.

I enjoyed the experience of reading this novel.  At times, it almost read like a memoir.  I truly believed these things were happening to Claire and it felt extremely realThe author did a phenomenal job of getting in the head of each character in order to portray them in a way I actually think would be very true to form.  While I was intrigued, nothing was shocking or "how did I not see that coming" for me.  It was more a fast-paced character study and I loved it.  As long as you don't have to have a huge surprise element, I think this is a great book to read next!  

         * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

My Name is Leon

My Name is LeonLeon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to take Jake away and give him to strangers. Because Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we somehow manage to find our way home.

The description given for this book on NetGalley differs greatly from the one given above that is posted on GoodReads.  Based on the GoodReads summary, I would not have picked up this book.  I requested it because it was compared to The Language of Flowers and I don't think that's an accurate comparison at all.  While I loved the character of Leon, Maureen and Sylvia I didn't care for anything else about this book.  I felt that it had an agenda and I was not impressed.  I just wanted the story of Leon and instead I got Leon, mixed with issues that just fell flat.  I just didn't care anymore and that made me sad because I was rooting for Leon and Maureen.  I think better editing and focusing more on Leon's story and less on some agenda would have served this book much better.    

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *