Format: Audio (borrowed from Library)
Narrated By: John Lee
Original Publication Year: 2012
The tone of this book immediately grabbed me. The story begins on Christmas Day which for me is pretty much the only day of the year that seems removed from time and a little magical. So it’s the perfect day for Tara Martin to reappear on her parents’ doorstep, out of the blue, just as she disappeared 20 years earlier when she was sixteen. They are shocked and overjoyed to see her again but as she tries to explain where she has been for 20 year, it is clear that she is not telling the truth. But the truth, when she finally does reveal it, is more unbelievable than the lies.
The book has multiple narrators revealing different pieces and perspectives of the story. Tara herself weaves the fantastical tale of where she has been for what for her felt like six months, but to everyone else was twenty years. Her brother Peter and his childhood best friend, also Tara’s ex-boyfriend, Richie, Peter’s son Jack and finally the psychiatrist treating her. All of them are trying to translate Tara’s story into reality and figure out what it means.
To be honest, there is not a strong narrative plot. The book seems to be posing the scenario of “missing girl shows up 20 years after disappearing and looks no older than when she left” and then explores what that would mean to those around her. Interestingly, he does not include her parents’ reaction and I’m not sure why. He focuses on her contemporaries Peter and Richie, one of whom has grown up and moved on with a wife and four children (Peter) and one who has never quite left his 18 year-old self behind (Richie). Jack has his own separate storyline that brings in an older lady in the neighborhood who proves to be important to Tara and to make the point that there is much more to things than their appearance.
It floats along as Tara reveals in dreamy sequences the story of what happened to her while she was away and as those around her try to connect with her again and evaluate their own life since she first disappeared. And while none of that may sound terribly gripping, the book was strangely addictive to me and I enjoyed being in its world and floating along with the characters. It has a fairy tale like quality while still being rooted in the modern world and I think I really appreciated that juxtaposition and thought he accomplished it much better than most main stream urban fantasies I’ve read.
The narration was nothing special but was well done. The reader delivered much of the dialogue in a lilting accent that is likely characteristic of the area of England in which the story takes place. It was pleasant to listen to and think it may have added to the fairy tale quality of the story.