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Tuesday 13 November 2018

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

Hmm. I think the blurb for this book makes it sound a lot more enjoyable than it was. 'Thought-provoking and psychologically complex'. Sorry, no, it was neither. The story begins with two parents, Jen and Hugh beyond relief at the return of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who went missing for four days during a painting holiday attended by Jen and Lana. Injuries and confusion render her seeming unable to explain what happened to her, but the truth must be uncovered...especially if someone else is to be held accountable. Lana insists she doesn't remember what happened to her.

At first, it's easy to feel compassion and sympathy for both mother and daughter. Jen was after all with her on the holiday when she went missing and Lana has a history of severe depression. But regrettably that sympathy disperses. I found Lana to be an obnoxious spoilt little brat and her inability to recall what happened isn't convincing; it's clear she's just rude and stubborn. 'Typical teenager' doesn't wash with me. Initially, it's also easy to sympathise with Jen as the exasperated mother who feels helpless and inadequate, but she irritated me too as the book progressed. I think the character I liked most was Grace, Jen's tree-hugging friend, whose quirkiness was a welcome relief.

The book is slow and the ending lacklustre and underwhelming. I never abandon a book, but I only wanted to finish this to find out what really happened to Lana. My road to the finale wasn't especially enjoyable.


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