Monday, November 17, 2014
…and it’s his younger sister, Hayden, a former addict who severed all contact with her family as her life spiraled out of control. Now she’s clean and sober but in need of a desperate favor—she asks Jason and his wife to take care of her teenage daughter for forty-eight hours while she handles some business in town.
But Hayden never returns.
And her disappearance brings up more unresolved problems from Jason’s past, including the abrupt departure of his best friend on their high school graduation night twenty-seven years earlier. When a body is discovered in the woods, the mysteries of his sister’s life—and possible death—deepen. And one by one these events will shatter every expectation Jason has ever had about families, about the awful truths that bind them and the secrets that should be taken to the grave. -- New American Library
I first heard about the novel THE FORGOTTEN GIRL by David Bell at this year's BEA. I was fortunate enough to attend a Speed Dating event where I learned about loads of fantastic book club possibilities, and THE FORGOTTEN GIRL was one of them. Since I am always on the lookout for book club recommendations and mysteries, I thought I'd give this one a try.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRL tells the story of Jason Danvers, a middle-aged man whose life is turned topsy-turvy when his long-lost younger sister Hayden and her Sierra daughter arrive on his doorstep.
Jason and his wife have returned to Ednaville, Jason's hometown, after a stint in New York. They have no children and they are hoping that a simpler life can help save their marriage.
Jason hasn't seen his sister Hayden in almost five years. She has had a very troubled past including her drinking problems and general lack of responsibility. When she shows up to Jason's house, she appears to be clean and sober; however, she leaves her daughter Sierra and asks that Jason watch her for 48 hours while she takes care of some business in town. Unfortunately, Hayden doesn't return.
Jason finds himself not only looking for Hayden but also discovering some troubling things about his past -- namely the mysterious disappearance of his best friend twenty seven years ago on the night of their graduation. As Jason tries to help Hayden, he ultimately ends up uncovering a series of events that makes Jason question everything he's ever believed about family and friendship.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRL definitely had an intriguing premise, and I was pretty certain that I would enjoy it; however, I actually found that it was a bit predictable. Don't get me wrong. The book was good and had some highlights. It just wasn't great. Maybe it's a case of me just not being in the mood to read over the past few days, but I had a hard time focusing on the story. I felt as it the book was too long at over 400 pages, and it just dragged in a few spots for me.
One thing that I definitely appreciated about the story was the character development. I liked that the novel delved into Jason's personal life, including his past friendships as well as his marriage; and I really felt as if I got to know and understand his character. I also liked how the book explored a variety of relationships between the characters, and some weren't what they seemed. In addition, there was definitely some insight into Hayden's character and her issues with alcohol.
Another aspect of the story that I liked were how the various "mysteries" were connected. It wasn't any secret that Hayden's reappearance and then disappearance was somehow connected to Jason's high school friend's disappearance; however, there was some surprise by how the events were related. As the story unfolded, there were a few twists, but I could kind of see where it was all going. I wish there had maybe been something more... if that makes sense.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRL would make an interesting book club selection because it is a mystery with some great character development. There is a reading guide with thirteen questions, and I thought quite a few of them were intriguing. Some of the themes you might want to explore include parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, love, addiction, forgiveness, trust, secrets, grief, and redemption.
THE FORGOTTEN GIRL is a good book with a few surprises. Recommended for fans of literary mysteries.
I received a review copy of this novel at the 2014 BEA.