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on 20 May 2015
Interesting premise, but really weak execution, with a lot of implausible moments. The book is narrated by four characters - Allison, Brynn, Claire and Charm - and to be honest it really doesn't need to be. Charm, although my favourite character, did not need to have her story told in a separate narrative. It's also a confusing device, as for some reason Allison and Brynn tell their story in first person, whereas the other two women's sections are in third. Why? It's furthermore confusing because Claire and Charm are introduced about eight sections in, and it's not clear for sometime how they relate to the story - in another book this might be intriguing, here it was just annoying.

The book could have done with being longer. It ends abruptly - Claire for instance doesn't get a final section, which feels wrong. There were also areas that really needed to be developed more. Like Allison and Christopher's relationship, which was - and came across as - a plot device. Why did she go for him when she previously never looked at boys? What made him special? Christopher was a big unknown in the book and could have done with appearing more prominently in flashbacks, both Allison's and Charm's, to give contrasting points of view.

This novel does have plot twists I didn't see coming but only because some of them, frankly, were so stupid! Other stupid things were Claire's decision - after having just had her bookstore raided - to employ an ex-con. Yes, that makes so much sense! It was also never explained why she turned down other ex-cons but took on Allison. I also found Brynn's actions at the end implausible as they hadn't been built up at all. Also, why was her grandmother so nice and the parents so awful?

I took a decision midway through the book to finish it rather than stop. I'm not sure if I should have bothered!
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on 26 May 2016
This is another tremendous story by this author. The third I've read and the first 2 I gave 5 stars but if there were halves I'd drop this one half down to mistakes and only went with the 5 again because as far as I can make out this was her first book. If not for that it would definitely be a 4.
Need was used in place of needed, naval instead of navel (!!) This sentence-"With a kick perfected my during my second year", Jonathan was used at one point instead of Joshua...then this sentence dropped a word-"Where do think those bad guys are" ? This was also wrong-"Reanne's says petulantly". Then speechmarks were dropped and I was beginning to sigh.....loudly. It really distracts me altogether when I keep coming across them.....AND in paid-for books, too !!! I expect better presentation.
There were also a LOT of acknowledgements at the beginning and a bit too much 'gumph' at the back meaning it ended at 93% !!
I thought the girls' parents in this one were appalling people, I must say !! The best examples of parenting in the whole tale were by non-blood relatives !! My favourite character was probably Gus, a sweet old gent.
I loved the story of Beautiful Jim Key-that was quite fascinating. I also enjoyed a couple of sweet little phrases she wrote. If this had been my first by the author, though, I may not have read another based on the lack of proper editing. She's lucky she can weave such intriguing stories !
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 August 2011
Having read The Weight of Silence (MIRA) which I thought showed great promise I was keen to read Heather Gudenkauf's next book.

I enjoyed this book much more, it starts with Allison aged 21 being released from prison to a half-way house following the
heinous crime she committed at the age of 16. Each chapter is narrated from a different character which gives the reader a different perspective as the story unfolds. The pace is fast and I certainly wanted to know whether my thoughts about what happened on the night in question were right or not.

Although this book is similar to Jodi Picoult's in that they deal with the big issues of life which underpin the story, that of relationships, in this case mainly between two sisters and their parents. This book cared about the outcome for all the main characters.
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on 22 June 2014
I have enjoyed this book so much I am sad that it has ended but it did end on a satisfactory conclusion. I was so engrossed with the storyline that I could feel whatever the characters were going through. The author explored what happens to a family when someone is accused of a terrible crime it tears them all apart but the parents in this story decided to completely shut everyone out. I am sure it's a true representation of an average family going through this tragedy. Still makes my heart ache for Allison and Brynn. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did
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on 1 February 2014
I think Heather Gudenkauf is an amazing writer. She has a brilliant imagination, has the skill to create characters you either love, hate or just feel sorry for.

Her stories are original and have great depth, I have read all her books now and I have never been disappointed.

Now I am eagerly awaiting her new book Little Mercies that's due out in July 2014 - Can't wait.

Keep writing Heather you are an inspiration.

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on 4 May 2013
This book was a little hard going at first. I had to put it down a lot and it took a while for me to finish, but as it got to 3 quarters of the way in I couldn't put it down. I can imagine some people guessed the ending but for me I truly didn't expect it to turn out how it did. I really enjoyed the twists in the last few chapters and I haven't read a book that without an obvious ending in a while.

I found the characters a little difficult to warm to. I couldn't stand Brynn, I really couldn't get a picture of her in my head. I imagined a character like 'Carrie' but more chubby. Listening to Allison she didn't seem the same character that her sister Brynn described, perhaps due to the time jump and she had changed. In my mind she was the main character and the one I wanted to read more on. Claire was a bit wishy washy, I didn't really enjoy her chapters. And Charm was a reasonable character but didn't add too much either.

The portrayal of parents in this book was a little black and white. Allison and Brynn wouldn't have turned out how they did if they hadn't had such nasty parents. And how did their lovely grandma have such a horrible son? It was a distinct case of the parents are bad and the grandma is good. The same goes for Charm's parents. Her mother was bad but her stepfather was good. Claire and Jonathon were distinctly good parents. There was no middle ground for any of these parents. Perhaps this was to highlight Allison's treatment of her new born daughter.

What I found hard about the book was seeing what the point of the story was. The first 75% is all set up to the final 25%.

I am still glad I read it, I also enjoyed 'The Weight of Silence' (I guessed the twist in that) so plan to read another Gudenkauf book next.
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on 23 January 2017
Very well written and I was being captivated by all the ups an Dr downs of the story. However I found it hard to believe that rich parents had no idea of what's best for their children.
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on 5 May 2013
I absolutely loved this book. It is well written, easy to follow and I fully emphasised with all of the characters. Having read 2 of Gudenkauf's books already, I have to say every one has been enjoyable to read and hard to put down!

An excellent storyline about the lives of 4 women and how an event changed their lives forever. I would definitely recommend!
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on 12 June 2015
This was my second book by this author and I will definitely look out for her future work. A great read....likeable characters, the story was well told using 4 different perspectives. Thoroughly enjoyed this.
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on 25 June 2014
Enjoyed this very much. It's one of those books you want to keep reading and you feel a sense of loss when you've finished. Once again, the characters are engaging and real. Not a book I could easily put down and will be looking to read more from this author soon.
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