Book Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

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Publish Date: September 4, 2018

“Secrets are things that we give to others to keep for us.” – Anonymous

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. 

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Lisa is single mother nearing forty, who devotes herself to raising her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ava. Lisa doesn’t speak of her past or Ava’s absent father.

Ava is getting tired of her overprotective mother. She wants to live like a normal teenager—chill with friends, go to swim practice, study for exams, have a boyfriend.

Lisa, Ava, and Marilyn all have secrets that they are keeping from each other. Secrets don’t stay hidden forever, and when these secrets are revealed, their worlds collide in an epic manner.

Small things from Lisa’s past have begun to appear in the present. Lisa knows that the only way she can protect herself and her daughter is to face her fears, and she’ll need her friend Marilyn’s help to do this.

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This book is from the same author, Sarah Pinborough, who wrote Behind Her Eyes, the book that everyone was talking about, with its own hashtag #WTFThatEnding. I was so curious about this new book, Cross Her Heart, and wondered if Sarah would take this story to the same level of crazy as the previous one.

The full version of the “Cross My Heart” expression is cross my heart and hope to die. It’s used to emphasize the truthfulness and sincerity of what you are saying or promising. You can say ‘cross my heart’ when you want someone to believe that you are telling the truth. It means that you are promising something is the truth and if it isn’t, bad things will happen to you because you told a lie.

This book has plenty of secrets, lies, and bad things that happen. It’s a fast-paced and engaging story from 4 different perspectives – Lisa, Ava, Marilyn, and an unnamed character called Her.

Lisa is a very protective and paranoid single mom to her 16 year old daughter Ava. She’s employed at the same firm where her best friend Marilyn works. All three of them have secrets that they are keeping from each other. Secrets that rip them apart when their truths are revealed slowly through the book. Secrets that made me squirm, shake my head, say “Don’t do this!” out loud, and made me wonder what I’d do in the same situation.

It reminds me that we only know someone by what they choose to reveal of themselves. And that can be very little.

The perspective of “Her” was different and fascinating when she was unveiled at the end. It made me want to re-read her parts when I discovered who it is.

There is also an underlying theme of love underneath the secrets, lies, and bad things. Lisa has strong love for Ava, and will do anything to protect her. Marilyn loves her best friend Lisa, which motivates her to help Lisa even after discovering that Lisa was hiding some major secrets that violated the BFF code of ethics.

For most of the story, the characters are broken, lost, lonely, and feel unloved. But there is healing, hope, and closure at the end, which makes it a great tale.

This story is very different from Behind Her Eyes (see my review here). Both are fast-paced and read quickly. Behind Her Eyes had an unexpected supernatural twist at the end that I didn’t enjoy. Thankfully this book does not have any supernatural aspects – only human ones – but some of the actions performed by these characters are inhuman.

If domestic abuse, rape, child abuse, and substance abuse are triggers for you, I caution you on reading this book. It’s a bit graphic and disturbing at times and heartbreaking, but if you can get through that, there is a fast paced, engaging story about love and friendship underneath the hard parts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars 4 Stars

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