Monday, December 28, 2015

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes. 

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most."

My Thoughts:

I don't even think that I can explain coherently how good this book was or how emotionally wrenching I found it to be while reading.  The premise of this book is every mother's nightmare and I felt emotionally drained when I finished reading it.  I had to stop reading at one point because I just couldn't take it any more and was going to give in to the urge to peek at the ending because the suspense level was sky high.  I managed to resist though and have to admit that I was glad I held strong as it made the ending of the book that much better for me.  After finishing this book I had to move on to a cozy mystery because I needed something on the lighter side since this was such a dark read.  It was so good though and I managed to read this chunky book in a matter of days.  Dark, atmospheric thrillers like this are like my reading catnip (if there was such a thing) so I have to admit that helped boost my enjoyment to an even higher level.  This was just one of those books that I could not set down!

One of the most disturbing things about this book was how real it all felt.  How easy it is for a person to make a choice and have their entire life change because of it.  It scraped my emotions raw seeing everything that Rachel was going through.  I cannot even begin to explain how horrifying I found this book to be when I considered how easily this situation could happen.  This was most especially true when it came to the media coverage of the disappearance and how easily they placed the blame on Rachel herself.  It is too easy to think of other real life examples of the media skewing public opinion a certain way just by the way they present coverage of the news.  It is a scary world we live in sometimes and this book felt terrifyingly real with the way the public and media both seemed to turn on Rachel.  What else to say without giving too much away?  The author was able to create such a dark almost sinister atmosphere in this novel where Rachel didn't know who she could trust.  I loved how the author had me suspecting just about everyone's motivations as I tried to figure it all out.  The ending felt real to me which I really appreciated as I had no clue how the author was going to tie this all up.  I won't say more than that as I feel like it might spoil things but the author did a really great job in my opinion.  This is a book that will almost certainly be on my top ten reads list for this year and an author that I cannot wait to read more of!

Overall I really don't know what else to say about this book besides READ IT!  It was dark and gut-wrenching but it was so completely worth it!  I cannot get over the fact that this is Gilly Macmillan's debut novel, and I also can't wait to see what she comes up with next!   Recommended, recommended, recommended.  And when you finish with this one come back and discuss it with me, won't you?  I have so many other things that I would like to say but I don't want to spoil the book for others.

Bottom Line:  A book that will be on my top ten list for this year.  Enough said!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a PICT book tour.




  1. I read this one earlier this year. Heard about it and knew it was already published in the UK. So, I ordered it and read it under the name Burnt Paper Sky. Yes, it was indeed a good book and I was saddened and amazed by how awful the press treated Rachel. It's a scary situation and all too real in this day and age. Totally understand your need for a 'cozy' afterwards. :-)

  2. This sounds like one of those books that I know I will love, but I dread because I know how real it will feel to me. I am glad you liked it, Sam. I hope to read this one soon.

  3. I want to read this the moment I read its coverage. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this book so much, Samantha.

  4. Wow! Excellent review! This one sounded so good to me but I just didn't have the time to read it. I will put it on my wish list though!

  5. I loved the police procedural aspect of this book - the statistics, the ‘things you should do in a missing child investigation’ excerpts that were included, the breaking down of Jim post-case. Heart-pounding, heart-breaking, this was such a great thriller.

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