Thursday, October 18, 2018

ARC Review: The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told
Author: Camilla Way
Publication: Berkley (October 9, 2018)

Description: The highly acclaimed author of Watching Edie returns with a new novel of dark psychological suspense that explores how those closest to us have the most to hide...

A daughter
Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, the apparent delight in hurting others...Sometimes Beth is scared of her and what she could be capable of.

A son
Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him.

A life built on lies
As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke's long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke's life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can Clara find him before it's too late?

My Thoughts: This psychological thriller is told from two points of view. Beth tells her story beginning in 1981 and Clara tells her story beginning in 2017.

Beth talks about her and her husband Doug's strong desire for a child and their disappointment when she doesn't conceive. Then the story switches to when their miracle child Hannah is born and Beth's gradual realization that something is terribly wrong with her. She talks about Hannah's lack of emotion and love of causing pain. She talks about fights and fires. She talks about her terror when she gets pregnant and has a son named Toby. She fears for his life because of seven-year-old Hannah's animosity.

Meanwhile Clara tells her story of waking up one morning and finding the her live-in boyfriend Luke hasn't come home from work. At first, she isn't too worried. They live a pretty carefree partying lifestyle and Luke could have partied too late and crashed at a friend's place. But then she recalls that he has an important interview at work and wouldn't miss it. She contacts their best friend Mac to see if he has any insight but he doesn't seem very worried.

After contacting all of his friends, she decides to travel to his parents' home to see if Luke had gone there. She didn't want to give them the news that he was missing over the phone. She has a very close relationship with Luke's parents - much closer than her relationship with her own parents. But Luke isn't there.

As the days go on, Clara gets more and more worried. When Mac tells her that Luke had an affair with a co-worker, Clara is shattered. She fell for him so completely and hasn't stopped looking at him through rose-colored glasses for the whole three years of their relationship. The more she looks into Luke's past the more she begins to wonder if she ever knew him at all.

Meanwhile, Beth is chronicling Hannah's growth since the day she overheard Beth and someone talking about something that Beth is feeling very guilty about. This sets Hannah on a path of harassment and revenge for things she perceives as slights.

At first the two stories seem very separate, but gradually the connections begin to come clear. This was a very twisty story filled with secrets and lies. No one, with the possible exception of Clara, is without substantial guilt. I was impressed with the amount of damage one sociopath can do to a bunch of lives. Of course, other characters' bad decisions and crimes did give her fertile ground to sow her own brand of chaos.

The Readers Guide at the end of the story asks if rehabilitation would be possible for Hannah but I don't see how. She certainly feels no remorse for her actions. I think, like Beth, that something essential is missing in Hannah. I don't think empathy and emotion can be developed in sociopaths even though they can act like they have them.

This was an entertaining, but sad, thriller. So many broken lives and relationships. There are a few bright, hopeful outcomes. But Hannah is just waiting to get out of prison to ruin more lives.

Favorite Quote:
The sudden shock of seeing Luke's image, his posture and gait so familiar, so loved, triggered such a rush of longing that her eyes swam. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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