After finding disturbing journal pages that suggest her late mother didn’t die in a car accident as her father had always maintained, Beth Walsh begins a search for answers to the question — what really happened to their mother? With the power and relevance of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Jewell, Rimmer pens a provocative novel told by two women a generation apart, the struggles they unwittingly shared, and a family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true.
With her father recently moved to a care facility because of worsening signs of dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home to prepare it for sale. Why shouldn’t she be the one, after all? Her three siblings are all busy with their families and successful careers, and Beth is on maternity leave after giving birth to Noah, their miracle baby. It took her and her husband Hunter years to get pregnant, but now that they have Noah, Beth can only feel panic. And leaving Noah with her in-laws while she pokes about in their father’s house gives her a perfect excuse not to have to deal with motherhood.
Beth is surprised to discover the door to their old attic playroom padlocked, and even more shocked to see what’s behind it – a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers, and miscellaneous junk. Her father was the most fastidious, everything-in-its-place man, and this chaos makes no sense. As she picks through the clutter, she finds a handwritten note attached to one of the paintings, in what appears to be in her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing Grace Walsh died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker may be true. A frantic search uncovers more notes, seemingly a series of loose journal entries that paint a very disturbing portrait of a woman in profound distress, and of a husband that bears very little resemblance to the father Beth and her siblings know.
A fast-paced, harrowing look at the fault in memories and the lies that can bond families together – or tear them apart.
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I was really hoping this book would be an intriguing journey of discovering family secrets, but it ended up being so much more than I expected. In it we follow two timelines in the same family, with the main character, Beth, discovering what happened when her parents were younger. She does this while going through her own difficulties and emotional issues. She and her siblings have to work through a number of things related to their father’s impending death and secrets that start to surface add another layer to the story.
Definite trigger warnings for death of a parent, postpartum depression (and depression in general) and talk of dementia. I really enjoyed the writing style and the dual timelines, with more and more of the past being revealed as time went on. There’s also some good discussion about the way contraception and abortions were looked at in the 50s as well as the roles women were expected to play at that time. Both timelines and the generations of this family were full of personality, depth and secrets and while unwinding them was hard, it was worth it.
Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide and USA TODAY bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, Me Without You, and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at www.Kelly.Rimmer.com