Publication year: 2016
From the beginning this book has hooked me completely.
The narration alternates present and past, which apparently are connected. The narrator is Grace; she lives in an isolated cottage with Dan, her boyfriend or husband. Things have not been good between them, and there is apparent detachment and coldness in their relationship. It seems that the present situation is a consequence of Charlie, Grace’s best friend, dying.
We know that Grace met Charlie when they were nine, and she started in a new school after moving in with her grandparents. Something happened to her parents, but we don’t know what. Grace told Charlie that her parents died, but it is not true as we know that her mother called her regularly but Grace wouldn’t talk to her. Grace claimed that she was responsible for her family’s destruction, but I am intrigued to know why a nine-year-old could feel guilty for something so huge. I have no idea if her parents are together or if maybe Grace found something which caused a divorce or something. In any case, Grace went to a therapist for a while, but that didn’t seem to help her.
As for Charlie, she lived with her mother, Lexie. Her mother never talked about her father and got upset if Charlie did. Apart from Charlie, there were two other girls, Esmé and Siobhan, who were friends, but Grace always felt hostility from Esme but she didn’t know how. In the school there was Dan, who the first day of class mocked Grace, but then they seemed to have become friends, and from what we know at present they became more than friends.
When they were sixteen, Grace and Charlie buried a box to open when they were older. In the box there was a letter Charlie wrote, but didn’t let Grace see. Now that Charlie is dead, Grace goes to unbury the box. Before she died Charlie told her she had done something terrible, so somehow Grace thought that the key might be in that letter. However, when she reads the letter, it is simply a series of intentions to complete. One of them is to find her father. Lexie, Charlie’s mother, has been asking to see Grace, which is unsettling. The day of the funeral Lexie kicked Grace out, accusing her of being her fault her daughter was dead. Grace is not well, that is clear; she is taking medication, and the fact that Lexie has asked after her makes her anxious. Yet, I’m sure that Grace will see the woman now. Even though she knows it is far-fetched, she thinks that maybe Charlie tried to find her father and that is where the key to her words lie. And the only woman who can help her here is Lexie.
The novel is totally intriguing and I have so many questions whose answers I’m dying to know. Why was Grace sent to live with her grandparents when she was nine? What happened to her parents? Why didn’t they visit her during this time? Why did Grace refuse to talk to her mother? Why did she lie about her parents being dead? How did Charlie die? What did she mean when she said she had done something terrible? Why did Lexie tell Grace it was her fault that Charlie had died? What has happened between Dan and Grace? Why are they so cold to each other? He is really out of the house a lot… is he having an affair? Is he planning to leave Grace? Grace gets phone calls and then nobody speaks. Who is harassing her? And who is the person she thinks is watching her?