Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What She Knew

Gilly Macmillan's debut novel, What She Knew, turned out to be one of my favorites of 2015— right up there with The Girl on the Train. When I first read the premise—a little boy disappears in the park— I was a bit hesitant to read it. First, the thought of that happening has always terrified me— but my kids are teens or older now, so I figured I could make it through. Second, I didn't want to read about horrible things that happened to the little boy. The author handled this perfectly, and I had no reason to fear.

Ben and his mother, Rachel, are out for their daily walk in the park. Ben asks to run ahead to the rope swing, and Rachel agrees. When she gets to the rope swing, he's gone. I think probably all parents have experienced that moment of terror— and then that sweet moment of relief when you spy your child's feet as he hides in the racks at Target. But Rachel doesn't have that sweet moment of relief. Ben is really gone.

The rest of the novel follows various characters as the search for Ben begins and continues: Rachel, her ex-husband, and the detective in charge of the search. Everyone is a suspect, and, naturally, Rachel becomes an object of suspicion and hate in the public eye. How could this horrible mother have let her child run ahead in a park? Again, I usually avoid novels that involve child abduction, but Macmillan isn't out to instill fear in parents or give us glimpses into terrifying scenarios.

This was a fantastic psychological thriller, a genre I really need to explore more. I loved Gone Girl, although it was pretty gory and graphic, and The Girl on the Train was brilliant. I really felt like What She Knew was a terrific blending of the two books. It had the heart of The Girl on the Train and the mystery of Gone Girl— but it was more uplifting than either of those books (which, again, I absolutely loved). I stayed up way past my bedtime reading this novel and finished quickly.  Highly recommended.


Marce said...

It is a very scary thought isn't it. I think I would enjoy this one. Gone Girl irritated me though, not a fan. I haven't read Girl on the Train yet. Psychological Thrillers, Mess with your Head Thrillers are my favourite.

Sandra said...

I've just added this to my TBR list. Currently reading The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls as a result of your review.

Sarah Small said...

I hope you both enjoy this one! I still can't believe it's a debut novel. So well written!