Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Her

Summary: You don't remember her--but she remembers you.

On the face of it, Emma and Nina have very little in common. Isolated and exhausted by early motherhood, Emma finds her confidence is fading fast. Nina--sophisticated, generous, effortlessly in control--seems to have all the answers.

It's easy to see why Emma is drawn to Nina. But what does Nina see in her?

A seemingly innocent friendship slowly develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Nina eases her way into Emma's life. Soon, it becomes clear that Nina wants something from the unwitting Emma--something that might just destroy her. -- Little Brown

Recently Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) reviewed HER by Harriet Lane, and I was so intrigued that I decided to read it right away. This book won't be released until early January, but I decided to review it right away so it doesn't get lost in the excitement of the holidays. (The truth of the matter is that I was worried I'd forget to review it with all of the chaos!)

Even though HER isn't a traditional whodunit, I decided to review it as part of Mystery Mondays. This novel is definitely a literary novel of suspense and there is an element of mystery to the story. The story alternates between two women, Emma and Nina, in a bit of a cat and mouse game; and the reader is definitely left scratching his or her head as to how these women are related.

HER is not only a suspense story. It also explores the unique relationship between two mothers. Despite being close to the same age, Emma is just starting her life as a mother with two young ones; and she's quickly discovering that it's very hard work. She doesn't quite feel like the accomplished woman she once was when she was leaving the house every day for her job. Nina, on the other hand, has an adult daughter who can be a typical teenager at times; however, for the most part, her hands on parenting days are behind her. When the two women have a "chance" encounter in a park one day, their friendship is formed.

Nina is definitely very interested in Emma's life and begins creating reasons to run into her. It's more than a little creepy at times, and honestly, I felt a little disconcerted (in a good way!) while reading this novel. It's apparent that Nina knows Emma from her past, although the reader isn't sure about the how or why; and she definitely has a bitter taste in her mouth. The tension builds and things escalate when the two women and their families end up vacationing together a Nina's father home...

And that's all I'm going to say because the ending of this book is quite the jaw-dropper. It's also rather ambiguous and you might find yourself wanting to discuss it with a friend. As a result, I'm going to go out on a limb and say HER would make a great discussion book for book clubs! Given how troubled these two women are, both in very different ways, there would be a lot to analyze about them individually as well as their relationship together.

There are very many things about HER that make it a great psychological thriller. First of all, this book will most definitely mess with your mind. It will also make you uncomfortable, especially if you are a mother. I read this book while also holding my breath because I just had a feeling that something big was going to happen. The way the author quietly created the tension in the story is absolutely fantastic!

So as far as psychological suspense novels go, this was a good one. However, it was also a very well written book; and I'd go so far as to say the writing is even better than the storyline. As a mom, I definitely appreciated how the author explored motherhood through the characters of Nina and Emma and I loved how she juxtaposed their lives. It's easy to get lost in the ending of this book, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how insightful this book was on mothering and parent/child relationships.

HER is a wonderful novel and sure to keep readers guessing until the very end... and maybe even longer. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was terrific too! I found it hard to put down. The ending was a little ambiguous but I found it very satisfying.

Karen White said...

My book club DID read this (we got advance copies as a group from the publisher). We had a great discussion, even from those that actively disliked the book (or actively disliked the characters, really). There's a lot to unravel, for sure. Several of us said that we kept thinking about it when we weren't reading it. The author really immerses you in her world.

Beth Hoffman said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this one!

Beth F said...

I love a psychological thriller!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

This sounds really good - on to my TBR list it goes!