Allison Glenn was perfect—a star athlete and scholastic overachiever—before she ended up in prison at the age of seventeen. The book opens with her early release to a halfway house. Her parents and younger sister, Brynn, don’t want anything to do with her after her as-yet-unnamed-but-certain-to-be-super-bad crime.
From this grim starting point the story unfolds, gradually revealing layers of guilt, regret, blame, and lots and lots of juicy drama between Allison and her family.
Then Allison is hired to work at a local bookstore, for a woman named Claire who has an adopted son, Joshua. He was abandoned outside a local fire station, and Claire has never known who Joshua’s parents were. Further clouding matters is Charm, a girl about Allison’s age, who has kept a secret from Claire for years, despite their friendship that developed in the self-help section of Claire’s store. Somehow, they’re all connected, and when it all comes together it’s a total crapstorm of betrayal and too-little-too-late honesty.
I have to admit, I found this book so absorbing I prolonged naptime at our house by half an hour so I could finish it. It was a real snarfer—one of those books that keeps you so enthralled, you end up snarfing it up in hundred-page chunks, shirking all your responsibilities and staying up past a respectable bedtime.
While I saw the “twists” coming and could predict most of the shocking moments, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment at all. I think, since Gone Girl, we’ve set the bar for shock value way too high. There’s more to good writing than just the ability to surprise readers. (Don’t even get me started on the ending of My Sister’s Keeper.) If there weren’t, I could pen a bestseller today: it would be 400 pages of historical drama set in 1896 Russia, and on page 401 a robot monkey that has overtaken its human creators would descend from the sky in a vortex of green flames and throw poop at the endearingly guileless orphaned teenage protagonist while Van Halen’s “Jump” is played in the background by a second robot monkey on a keytar. Nobody would see it coming, right? The makings of a classic. Now to get it written before Jodi Picoult can steal my idea.