Publication Date: 24th August from Century
There was a time when Jackie Reed knew her sons better than anyone. She used to be able to tell what they were thinking, feeling, if they were lying…
But it’s as though every day, every minute even, she knows them a little less. Her boys aren’t boys anymore, they’re becoming men – men she’s not sure she recognises, men she’s not sure she can trust.
So when one of her son’s classmates is killed in suspicious circumstances, people start asking questions.
Was it really a hit and run? A car-jacking gone wrong? Or something much more sinister?
Now Jackie must separate the truth from the lies.
How did that boy end up on the road?
And where was her son that night?
Having loved What Remains of Me I was really looking forward to this and it was one of those books I devoured – although it has a mystery at the heart of it and it’ll get tagged as a psychological thriller, this was much more family drama with a small town vibe, digging deep into themes of parental responsibility, sibling relationships, school and community hierarchy and the dark depths of humanity.
A boy dies – run over during a carjacking, a town mourns and focuses in on Wade – a loner of sorts, who is struggling with things he can’t describe. His mother no longer knows who he is, his brother doubts him and the beauty of this one came in the depth of the characters, the layered relationships and the obfuscated and twisted motivations of a community seeking answers and closure.
My heart ached for them all in a way – A L Gaylin brings a strong emotive edge to her descriptive tone and dialogue – shining a spotlight on those we meet, peeling away their realities in a tense and atmospheric read that promises no salvation but might give you some anyway. The opening salvo drops you straight into the emotion of it and doesn’t let up from there on in.
The ultimate resolution when it comes is beautifully embedded into the previous narrative, it is both heart wrenching, traumatic and in some ways unexpected – there are scenes throughout that will have you gritting your teeth and others that will make you catch your breath.
Really beautifully done. In all the white noise of this genre at the moment, its a true thing to say that clever, talented and beautiful writing tells – If I Die Tonight has all three, making you feel every moment and live it right along with this fractured town.