Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DON'T YOU CRY :: Mary Kubica

"I have this pesky feeling that I don't know who Esther is anymore."

Mary Kubica is quickly becoming one of my favorite multi-POV authors. This time, the reader is tossed between Quinn and Alex—Quinn an admittedly flawed twenty-something who wakes one morning in her Chicago apartment to find her beautiful, smart, church-going roommate Esther missing; Alex an 18-year-old living an hour away from Quinn in Michigan, working as a dishwasher and trying to keep his alcoholic father afloat.

When a mysterious stranger appears in the diner where Alex works, he falls hard and begins trying to find out who she is and what she’s doing in his small, seemingly boring town. Kubica uses Quinn and Alex to wind around both mysteries and ultimately bring them together in a satisfying conclusion.

The more Quinn tries to find out what happened to the girl she calls "Saint Esther" (did she climb out her window and take off, or was she taken?), the more she begins to question her relationship with Esther and who Esther really is. Is Esther sweet or sinister?

A mere hour away, Alex knows he doesn't know the beautiful stranger, and the more he finds out the less he understands. Both Alex and Quinn begin to feel the tug of danger in their guts, as secrets new and old come to the surface.

Kubica has a great knack for leading readers’ judgment about her characters, only to turn those conclusions on their head. Despite knowing that, she gets me every time. I'm too sucked in by the mystery to wonder what is true or the result of being taken in by the narrative. It's just fun to go along for the ride.

I've enjoyed all three of Kubica's novels (The Good Girl and Pretty Baby preceded Don't You Cry), and while I think The Good Girl may remain my favorite overall, I think Don't You Cry may be the best at pulling off its conclusion. Are there annoyances? Sure, but minor ones. We're in the minds of two young people, where that's bound to happen. My only real complaint is just a personal nit, but if I had to read the description of a character's hair as ombre one more time I was going to throw a clot. If that's my biggest complaint, I think we've got a winner here.

STREET SENSE:  Fans of Mary Kubica's work will be happy to know she's still got more up her sleeve. If you've not read Kubica's work, I recommend it. It's engaging, entertaining, and wound in a way that always gives me at least one good surprise. Don’t You Cry isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun, twisty ride, and I will pick up Mary Kubica's books as long as she keeps writing them.

A FAVORITE PASSAGE:  I was hooked from the opening, so here it is:

In hindsight, I should have known right away that something wasn't quite right. The jarring noise in the middle of the night, the open window, the empty bed. Later, I blamed a whole slew of things for my nonchalance, everything from a headache to fatigue, down to arrant stupidity.
But still.
I should have known right away that something wasn't right.

COVER NERD SAYS:  With Don't You Cry, the publisher has returned to a cover image that is undoubtedly for a Mary Kubica book. Along with The Good Girl, her covers are almost so recognizable it doesn't matter if you can read the title. I think it's smart to have covers that readers automatically associate with an author, and with the paperback of Pretty Baby the publisher kept with the feature of having one letter out of whack, which I also like. I'm not often a fan of face close-ups on book covers, but these seem to work in that while the women are beautiful, they don't distract from or outweigh the whole. A partial face, a face turn, and gauzy lighting help that. Alone, these covers are nice. As a group they really shout "Mary Kubica wrote this!"

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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.


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