– I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. –
One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.
I chose this book because…
How did Cass return? Why didn’t Emma? What happened?? Are the sisters the messed up ones or just one of them or is it the rest of the family or is it all of them? The blurb sort of reminds of S02E07 of Criminal Minds called “North Mammon,” in which three teenage girls are abducted but only two are returned to safety. It also reminded me of Good as Gone by Amy Gentry, in which a girl is kidnapped but returns to her family eight years later, and a lot of the book is spent wondering if the girl who returned is who she claims she is. I love my mysteries and thrillers!
Upon reading it…
The premise of Good as Gone seems similar to Emma in the Night, but in Emma in the Night, there is no doubt that the girl who returned is the girl she claims she is (Cass). Rather, we are left wondering about Emma. However, even though we know that the Cass who disappeared is the Cass who found her way back home, there seemed to be something off about Cass, maybe due to whatever happened over the course of her disappearance, maybe due to the way she was before her disappearance–you’ll have to read the book to find out! Even with this suspicion, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel off about Cass, such was the subtlety of it. I felt like she was concocting a story, and if I was correct with my suspicion, I wasn’t sure whether her motives were for good reasons or not. Was she trying to steer us toward the truth or away from it?
The characters in this story were messed up, every one of them in their own way. But nobody sulked or felt bad for themself, which I liked. Instead, it was a constant power struggle between everyone, which certainly made for interesting drama. Everyone was playing everyone, but who came out on top?
At first I was impatient with this book. It began with Cass’ return and then went day by day after her return. Why couldn’t Cass just tell everyone where Emma was and/or what happened to her? I could do with the sob story afterward. Also I didn’t feel like we needed to know as much as we did about Dr. Abby Winter. But this mystery/thriller proved to be more nuanced than most I have read, and soon I figured there was a greater scheme and I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of it. There were reasons for everything and my complaints were put to rest. I even accepted that Dr. Winter’s insights about narcissism helped me better understand each of the characters, though I think I could have done without her personal story and just done with her authority on the subject, but I guess it’s more compelling with the personal story.
Speaking of which, I guess now is as good a time as any to say that this book switches between two perspectives, that of Cass’ and that of Dr. Winter’s. When it got to Dr. Winter’s parts, I was always wondering whether her insights about narcissism were the author’s attempt to to nudge the reader in the right direction or the wrong direction. This book kept me in suspense until the end! I was satisfied with the end of the book and so much was revealed and it was so hard for me to keep spoilers from this review!
(more like 4.5)
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We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe. Maybe there’s no difference between wanting and needing. I don’t know.
But seeing the future is a worthless gift if you don’t have the power to change it.
I may have been beautiful, as my mother said, but I was beautiful like a doll, like a lifeless thing people look at once before moving on.
A story is more than the recounting of events. The events are the sketch, the outline, but it is the colors and the landscape and the medium and the artist’s hand that make it what it is in the end.
The glass is half empty. The glass is half full. It’s pouring rain. The flowers will grow. I am going to die one day. I am alive on this day.
You know how sometimes you have two parts of yourself—one part that wants you to do something crazy and the other part that sees how crazy it is but doesn’t do anything, because it doesn’t want to upset the crazy part?
First kisses. Graduations. Weddings. Sports victories. They never feel the way we think they will, and they never go quite the way we dream about them.
I wanted to be out of line. I wanted them to wonder what I would do and, for once, fear that it would be out of their control.
Sometimes your own thoughts can do you in if you don’t get rid of them.
But like most pure things, it is also the most vulnerable.
I never want to want anything after seeing the damage wanting brings.
Maybe it was dangerous to have things like that because when they’re gone, it breaks you into pieces.
Seven years was a long time. But small towns had long memories.
I could see that if I answered them in a way to appear perfect, the test would flag me as being a liar. No one is perfect.
When I think about it, I feel sick in my stomach with shame and disgust and also from the knowledge that there is evil in the world and that evil can dress up as love so convincingly that it blinds you to the truth.
Everybody needs something.
It was the first love that I knew was pure because she was too little to do anything to force me to love her, or trick me into loving her.
It was a kiss I will never forget, and not only because it was my first kiss, but also because we were both starving, drowning, dying, and this kiss was all that could save us.
My body missed his body. And my mind was twisted in knots. That is where desire begins, and it does not just vanish the minute we command it to. I felt things I didn’t want to feel.
There are always more boys.
I would rather live half as long feeling alive than twice as long feeling dead already.
When she said these words to me, I could tell that she felt very grown-up. That she felt as though she had come up with something no one had thought of before. But now I know that she was just finding a way to understand what was going on inside her.
What I have come to know about death is that it is not like that. It is not fair. It does not add up your cigarettes and drinks and irresponsible behavior and come for you when you’ve reached your quota. People die all the time who were very good, very responsible. And people stay alive to the bitter end of their natural lives who were very bad and who did very bad things.
She came to my room only in the night, sometimes when she needed to say things she could not say to any other human being because they were ugly things—things that came from anger or sadness or fear. Emma could not tolerate anyone thinking she was ugly, inside or out, and she knew that I could never see her as anything less than beautiful.
That is what happens when we lose faith in a person. We have to see the evidence. Words and promises are no longer enough.
The best lies are the ones closest to the truth.
I think sometimes that having too much information can be a very bad thing. It pulls our attention this way and that way, that way and this way, until our heads are just spinning around and we are never able to see what’s right in front of us. We are not owls and our heads were not built to spin.
It’s so easy to think that we are important and that the things that happen to us are important. But the truth is, we are so small, so insignificant in the scope of even just our solar system, which is itself meaningless in the scope of the Universe. The truth is, nothing really matters unless we decide it matters. We could set off every nuclear bomb we’ve ever made and kill all life on the planet, and the Universe would just shrug and yawn because within the next five billion years while the sun is still shining, some kind of new life would come and we would be talked about by them the way we talk about dinosaurs.
I decided that life would be about choosing things to make important even though they are not, and cannot ever be.
It’s a look that comes in a different way or that you send out in a different way. It’s just a tiny bit longer than a normal look. And it’s completely still, it’s not moving with a smile or talking or even eyes squinting or your eyebrows lifting up or anything at all. It’s totally frozen, like a deer in the headlights. It’s frozen by a thought that has just hijacked your brain for that second and that’s why it lasts too long, because you have to rescue your brain from the hijacker… It’s the thought that you want that person.
I am afraid now. I am afraid of myself and what I am capable of. I am afraid of my own mind.
I knew I would have to learn to live with it—the hope and the fear always together.