Publish Date: September 15, 2020
“If you can’t be a good second mommy, we will have to get a new one.” — Don’t Look For Me
The greatest risk isn’t running away.
It’s running out of time.
The car abandoned miles from home.
The note found at a nearby hotel.
The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.
They called it a “walk away.”
It happens all the time.
Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.
But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?
This book is pretty much every woman’s nightmare as a mother, wife, friend, and as a basic human being. It is creepy, disturbing, squirmy, uncomfortable, and it will make you want to binge read it from the first chapter to the very end. You’ll lose sleep while reading this book, and it will give you a book hangover afterwards.
The story begins nearly 5 years after the tragic accidental death of Molly Clarke’s youngest daughter Annie. The family is broken, distant, and grief-filled. Molly is despondent; her husband John is distant; her middle son Evan is withdrawn; and her oldest daughter Nicole is literally drowning her sorrows in alcohol and one-night stands. They are trapped in a valley of despair.
One night while Molly is driving solo back from Evan’s football game at his boarding school, her car runs out of gas on a deserted stretch of country road in a sudden rainstorm. A kind stranger and his 9 year old daughter convince Molly to let them aid her. She gets into the stranger’s truck and the events that happen afterwards are absolutely terrifying.
I discovered through this book that kidnapping stories are a trigger for me. As I started reading this tale, I was sucked in quickly by Molly Clarke’s present-day situation, her backstory, and what the heck was actually happening to her. It evoked fear and dread in me. There were many heart-pounding chapters, and I couldn’t stop reading because I wanted to know what would happen to Molly.
The story is narrated in two alternating perspectives: mother Molly and daughter Nicole. Nicole doesn’t know if Molly left, or is dead, and definitely doesn’t suspect kidnapping. Nicole’s chapters are a slower burn as she puts the pieces together to solve her missing mother mystery. Molly’s chapters were fast-paced and nail biting, and I flew through them.
All of the characters were incredibly damaged. Most were unlikeable. The most fascinating character of the story is the little girl Alice. She is definitely a standout in this book due to her psychopathic tendencies. She gave me the creeps and she was absolutely sinister.
My favorite quotes:
“Crazy was not a good place to start.”
“We are not wired to witness the death of a child. To endure it. To survive it.”
“Don’t run from the pain. You have to feel it before it will get better.”
“My mother used to say that you can only be happy as your least happy child.”
“People try to replace the ones they loved with replicas.”
Like all of Wendy Walker’s stories, this one had multiple storylines, complex characters, a rich backstory, and takes the reader on twists and turns with an explosive and unexpected ending. The final chapters tie up all loose ends so that the reader can finally get closure at the end.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This story is about grief, tragedy, obsession, anguish, addiction, love, parenting, and survival. You will root for Molly Clarke in ways that you have never rooted for a main character before. You will admire her ingenuity and resilience, and her will to live. You will sense a change in her by the end of the book, and a reconciliation of the tragic events of the past. But most of all, you will be haunted by Alice and be relieved that she’s only a character in a book.
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.