Monday, January 5, 2015

THE GOOD GIRL :: Mary Kubica

Twenty-four-year-old Mia Dennett is a free spirit, the black sheep of her blue blood family. Daughter of a powerful judge and a socialite, her only sibling a doppelganger of her father, she wants nothing more than to maintain distance from her family and continue her work as an art teacher at an alternative high school. But when Mia is abducted by a man she meets in a bar and later returns home from captivity, she and her family are forced to deal with the pre- and post-abduction fallout as the reader is taken through the mystery of Mia’s disappearance and the repercussions that shake her family.

Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl is written in a terrific format which serves to ratchet the suspense to levels that truly kept me hooked from the get-go. The story is told in “Before” and “After” timelines as well as from four alternating chapter perspectives: Mia, her mother Eve, her abductor Colin, and Gabe Hoffman, the detective assigned to Mia’s case. The culminating event to which the “Before” and “After” are pinned is the recovery of Mia from her abductor, an event she can’t remember, along with her name (she now calls herself “Chloe”).

Mia seems to be a different person with different mannerisms and traits. Even as her mother struggles to understand Mia and help her through her PTSD memory-loss, she realizes she perhaps never really knew her daughter at all:

My eyes stray to a family photograph we had done years ago: James, Grace, Mia and Me. Everyone else looks as if they were forced to be there, with artificial smiles plastered to furrowed brows and rolling eyes. Even me. But Mia simply looks happy. Why? I wonder. We never gave her a reason to be happy. 

While the style might sound confusing, it’s in good hands with author Kubica, and I was never lost as to where I was in the story or which character I was listening to. The perspective switches, paired with short-ish chapters, made the book all the more compelling, a “just one more chapter” type of read. A psychological thriller of the first order, The Good Girl asks all kinds of great questions, then lets the answers play out over the two timelines and through the multiple narrators:

Why did Colin abduct Mia, only to take her to a remote cabin in Minnesota rather than turn her over to his cohorts as planned? What was the purpose of the abduction in the first place? Why is Mia’s mother so removed from her daughter, when it’s obvious she regrets the distance between them? Is Mia’s father always such an asshole, or just when it comes to Mia and the effort it might take to get her back and deal with her issues? Is her family really that bad or is Mia the one who’s a bit off? What really happens when abductor and abductee are holed up in a cabin in the frigid Minnesota wilderness?

The strength of The Good Girl is in the format and the character profiles, each well-drawn in its own right. I enjoyed getting into the minds of four different characters, who all had a different purpose, in and to the story. They also each had different pasts and motivations coloring their actions, some quite surprising. Eve’s and Colin’s chapters in particular were written with such emotion the pain emanating from the words was almost palpable. I may not have liked each character, but I liked reading about them, which is the important part, and Gabe Hoffman is one of my favorite characters of 2014.

Where the book lost me a bit was with the ultimate unveiling of how Mia was recovered and what was behind the abduction, which felt a bit formulaic. That being said, the let-down wasn’t enough to detract much from my enjoyment of the telling of how we came to the end. I’d still highly recommend it if you like a good, page-turny psych thriller.

STREET SENSE: Despite a bit of a let-down from the ultimate reveal (for me), I thought this book was really well done and recommend it for those who like a fast-paced mystery with a psychological bent.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE: I’ve been following her for the last few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I’ve never spoken to her. I wouldn’t recognize the sound of her voice. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.

COVER NERD SAYS: I’d heard good things about The Good Girl, but wasn’t taken in the by cover. For some reason, the photo read to me as a much younger girl, not a young woman, and it just didn’t leap out at me. Now that I’ve read it, and can better see the young woman of the photo,I appreciate the cover a bit more for its subtlety.

No comments:

About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP