What did you think of the synopsis? Did it reveal too much plot or too little?
Thatonenerdygirl – I think the synopsis is quite straight to the point, however, it also makes the reader feel as though they’re going to read a thriller, which is poor marketing.
Everybookcounts – The synopsis sums up the book pretty nicely. I love short sinopsis so I think the author made the right choice with this one.
What did you think of the characters? Was there character development?
E – The characters were great. Barnard created a set of completely different characters that I loved. All of them had flaws. Each chapter had a different point of view and you could easily guess it by the narrative and the way they interpreted what was going on. Sally was the mother, she was my favorite because, when I read her chapter, I felt her anxieties and fears. With Martha and Richard I just rolled my eyes to the dumb teenage behaviour and the unnecessarily angry interactions Richard had with pretty much everyone. In my opinion, there was character development. You could see the characters changing and, in the end, they were very different from the start.
T – I have a feeling that Martha and Richard were very soap opera-y. Their development didn’t feel real either, it’s the kind of thing you’d expect when reading one of those 0.5€ books you buy at the train station. However, Sally did feel real, she was the ‘saviour’ when it came to characters.
What did you think of the plot?
T – The plot, as I’ve stated in my review, is simple. However, I do love how the flashbacks are presented, there’s a clear escalation when it comes to all the abuse Richard dealt.
E – The plot was gripping. I kept reading, not because of the suspense but because I wanted to see what Richard was going to do next or what was Sally planning to get Oliver back.
T – I don’t agree. To me, this isn’t the kind of book that makes you say ‘urg, I have to read this’ but it also isn’t the kind of book that makes you say ‘is it reading time yet?’. It felt overall bland, it fits in a weird gray area.
Were there problems in the story?
E – I didn’t find any major problems until I reached the epilogue. It just doesn’t fit the narrative.
T – I think the mystery was too simple, I was able to predict who broke Oliver’s arm waaay too soon. Given that there isn’t much mystery, the book is basically people lying to each other, people screaming at each other and people getting into easily avoidable situations.
What do you think the author did right?
T – I think that the way Sally was written is really interesting I think we never see through the mind of an obsessed woman like that. I also love the way the author portrayed the effects of abuse, be it physical or mental.
E – The characters were really well written. As you said, Sally was brilliant but I also liked how the author portrayed Richard. The way he thought and how he acted were completely wrong and borderline abusive and the author really captured that.
T – I think that Richard was always so angry that it stopped feeling real. I know that there are cases in which people are like that, but it just felt forced.
What do you think the author did wrong?
E – I have big problems with the epilogue. I understand the need to finally reveal who did it but not like that. Sally writes a letter to give Oliver when he’s 18 years old but that just doesn’t feel right. What if someone finds it and reads it before he reaches that age? What will he do when he finds out? 18 year olds aren’t that mature, he won’t probably take it well and will probably tell Richard, who is going to be pissed. Because Sally is depicted as really smart throughout the book, I can’t see her doing this. If the author wanted the revelation to be like this, maybe Sally should have burned the letter after writing it. Leaving it like that just doesn’t seem very smart.
T – But maybe that’s the point, maybe the author wanted to show that the whole experience made Sally more reckless (and thus dumber). The odd thing is, why does she only admit (and feel) guilt after so much time? He was hurt when he was 11 months old, however, she only says she feels bad when he’s two. That feels fishy to me.
What was your favorite quote?
T – ‘[…] you should let kids have their magic for as long as possible.’
E – ‘I see all these things playing out, but I can’t be sure if they are real or part of a dream.’
What was your opinion on the ending? Would you prefer if it had been different?
E – YES! Burn the letter.
T – WHY WRITE IT AT ALL? I would’ve been happier if the ending might have been a little creepier, like a flashback to when she did it or maybe she whispering in his ear ‘I promise I won’t hurt you again’ every day as she tucks him in.
Do you have any questions about the book?
T – Did the author leave so many leads throughout the story on purpose (when it comes to all the big revelations)? Because, let’s be honest, they were a buzz kill.
E – I’m just curious, is this really how social services treat these cases?