Synopsis from Amazon
In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.
Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?
Last year I read Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. That was the first time I read anything by the author and I gave it a solid three stars. I enjoyed that book but it didn’t blow me away. I have several of her other books on my Want to Read List on Goodreads, and I was in the mood for a suspense/thriller story, so I decided to read I Found You. Here are my Pros and Cons:
- Locations in the book were well-described. I could picture the beach, the sea, the houses, the shops. I felt like I was there. I think it is an art to describe a place well without getting overly wordy. This author did a great job with that.
- I loved the juxtaposition of the past and present. I figured everything would come together in the end, as it did, but it really felt like I was reading three different stories (1 past, 2 present) that had absolutely nothing to do with each other and were all interesting in their own right.
- I liked Alice. She had some issues of her own, including making incredibly bad decisions throughout her life, but she owned every mistake she ever made and moved on. I loved how she interacted with her kids, her dogs, and her friends. She was quirky, snarky, creative, and disorganized, but also in love with her children and her life. She jumped into “love” mode with “Frank” (the amnesiac found on the beach) sooner than was realistic (in my opinion), but that happens so often in novels nowadays that I tend to just ignore it now. Alice was really the only character I really felt a connection with in the book. She felt real.
- The book had a few violent scenes. Again, I think it is an art to write about violence and psychologically traumatic experiences in a book without being gratuitous or graphic. The author handled these scenes well.
- Kitty Tate was a well-written character. I wanted to hate her for everything she did and didn’t do, but I found I couldn’t hate her. Ultimately she was a victim, just like so many others in this story. Impressive writing when you can take a character that literally does everything wrong – things that affect so many lives for so many years – and make them a sympathetic (somewhat) character in the end.
- I didn’t buy the fugue/amnesia as written. First off, I’m not an expert in psychology or amnesia events or anything like that at all. However, it seemed to me that “Frank” had amnesia brought on by a traumatic experience, not necessarily a bump on the head; therefore, it seemed strange that he couldn’t remember things like what Yorkshire pudding was. I did a little reading on this and while it is possible for a psychological trauma to cause loss of memory of this type (i.e., can’t remember what a Big Mac is for example), it appears to typically only occur when the forgotten item was involved in the psychological trauma in the first place. Again, I didn’t study this in depth and I am not a medical expert, or even a medical amateur for that matter… but little things like not remembering Yorkshire pudding seemed strange to me and I just couldn’t get it out of my head while reading the book.
- Also regarding the amnesia, the memories seemed to come back at just the perfect time. I understand that this is a book, with a finite timeline, etc., but it was just a bit too clean for me.
- Lily claimed she met her husband while providing interpretive services in the Ukraine for him. Yet, while in England she seems to have no clue what some basic sayings/colloquialisms mean. I know she wasn’t an interpreter by training, but it seemed odd to mention she worked as an interpreter, yet make her seem so lost while communicating with others in England.
- This was a slow burn… a little too slow for me. I found myself getting quite bored and a little disinterested in the middle. I can always tell when a book isn’t wowing me by how long it takes me to read it. This one took me nine days to finish! I normally finish 3 to 4 books in nine days. Plus, I started writing this review about 12 hours after I finished the book and for the life of me I can’t remember how the book actually ended… that typically isn’t a good sign.
- We find out “what happened” way before the end of the book and ultimately it was a little disappointing. The remaining part of the story was just tidying up and reviewing the details of the story (which is probably why I didn’t remember the ending). I kind of wish the reveal would have been a bit more dramatic. Overall the book didn’t feel suspenseful or thrilling.
Just like Then She Was Gone, this book falls solidly in the middle of the road for me. I obviously had some personal nitpicks with the story, but there were also things I did like about it. I like Lisa Jewell’s writing style and I won’t ignore her other books just because this one didn’t dazzle me. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to read a light thriller/mystery novel.
Published April 25, 2017 by Atria Books
My rating – 3 out of 5
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