Review: Whistle In The Dark

May 1, 2018 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Mystery

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Whistle In The Dark Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey
Published by Viking on 3rd May 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

Jen Maddox has just been reunited with her 15-year-old daughter, Lana, following Lana’s four-day-long disappearance.

Jen and Lana had gone on a mother-daughter painting holiday when Lana went missing – sparking a huge search and nationwide missing persons campaign. Now that Lana’s back, she won’t tell anyone what happened to her. Seeing her daughter cut, battered and bruised, Jen fears for what Lana has been through. She, husband Hugh, and elder daughter Meg are also concerned for Lana’s mental health – how will this ordeal have impacted upon Lana’s depression?

I thoroughly enjoyed Emma Healey’s debut Elizabeth Is Missing (you can find my review here), so I was so excited to see Whistle In The Dark appear on NetGalley and instantly requested it. The thing is though, when you’ve loved an author’s first book, do you have unfairly high expectations for the next? I fear that was the case with this novel. I enjoyed it but I couldn’t help but compare it.

The mystery surrounding Lana’s disappearance and her unwillingness to share her story is what spurred on my reading with this book. I really did want to learn what had happened to Lana and why she wouldn’t discuss it.

I like the way the story was told from Jen’s perspective – a mother who has long tried to the best for her child, to help her through her mental health difficulties and who finds herself faced with a seemingly changed daughter, with an unknown trauma.

With Jen as narrator, we see the characters through her eyes. Her elder daughter, so together and unlike her mother, her husband who, while supportive, does seem to think she overreacts, and Lana whom she can’t get close to – can’t even tell if she likes her.

I guess I found this book to be overall a bit flat. I kept reading, kept waiting for all to unravel and I was left feeling that I wanted a bit more from this book. I really enjoy Healey’s writing, but as I said at the start, I fear I went into reading this with unfair expectations, and that probably left me feeling the way I did.

I must add though that, like Elizabeth is Missing, this book addresses some important subjects and I’m sure it will help to raise awareness.


Review: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

June 20, 2014 in Book Reviews, Fiction, General fiction

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Published by Penguin Genres: Contemporary
Source: NetGalley

‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago...

Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son - not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.

Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.

Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum

Maud is concerned about her friend Elizabeth. She is missing. The problem is that Maud’s memory is failing her and no-one will believe her.

We journey through the book with Maud. We’re inside her mind, a mind that forgets things – words, people, places. Her pockets are stuffed with notes written in her own writing but she has no recollection of writing them. There are cold cups of tea and an abundance of peach slices in her home, and even her toaster has a note on it telling her not to make toast. Among the many notes she finds on her person is the message that Elizabeth is missing.

The story is written beautifully, the staccato style reflecting the thoughts in Maud’s mind. Things in Maud’s life trigger memories from her childhood. Memories that are clear and fluid, a stark contrast to her memories in day-to-day life. It’s through this that we learn about Maud’s childhood. In essence we follow two stories simultaneously; elderly Maud trying to find Elizabeth and young Maud whose sister Sukey suddenly disappears.

I really like the way this novel works, often flitting between stories as Maud’s brain jumps from one to another. Personally, I feel that Healey has captured beautifully the workings of Maud’s mind.

I have experienced family and friends suffering from dementia. It is heartbreaking. So I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book…it is fantastic though. I could relate to a lot of it having seen loved ones go through a similar process. The difference with this novel though is that it makes you look at the world from the sufferer’s perspective, something that I think is truly valuable.

Although this is a far from amusing subject I found myself chuckling as Maud seems to feel everyone around her is mad! The shopkeeper questioning her buying of peach slices, the policeman who seems to know her by name, her daughter who won’t let her boil an egg. She is a determined lady and she will not let her forgetfulness or lack of cooperation from others stand in the way of finding her good friend Elizabeth!

This novel demonstrates experience and understanding of the subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Maud’s life, both her youth and in her older years. I will admit though that at first I wondered where the book was going, I felt I was getting quite far in & nothing had really happened. However once I accepted the pace and style of the novel I really enjoyed it.

I truly feel that this book opened my eyes as to what dementia sufferers go through. It’s a small glimpse, but it’s poignant.

An electronic copy of Elizabeth Is Missing was received through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely our own and completely honest.