I was hooked from the very beginning! A mother running for her and her young child's life, barefoot and determined; running with a certain level of physical endurance that only a parent could truly understand. After all, haven't almost all of us envisioned ourselves doing exactly that, protecting our child(ren) at all cost? We try to mentally prepare for the worst, while hoping and praying that it never comes. Could we do it, whatever it takes? As a mom myself it wasn't hard to try and place myself in her shoes during that opening scene and truly root for their survival.
That pure maternal instinct is exactly the type of feeling you get from the story's opening character Kate, at least at first. Kate is the mother to the seven-week-old infant in her arms and, we shortly find out, sixteen-year-old Abbi. Abbi's mother had gone missing from a Target parking lot when she was five years old, she had grown up fantasizing and memorializing her mother's memory with her father Scott year after year.
While attending grief counseling, Scott met Meredith, who was also experiencing the loss of a spouse. While Meredith's husband had definitively passed away leaving her a widow and single mom to two grown boys, Scott never truly gave up hope on Kate - even after having her declared legally deceased. My heart broke for them, the daughter missing her mother, the husband missing his wife. Now newlyweds, eleven years after Kate's disappearance, who should show up states away but a disheveled Kate and her new born, Shiloh.
Meredith was an easy character to become invested in, as the story grew I felt myself drawn to her thoughts, wondering what if? What if this incredible reunion wasn't as picture perfect as Scott and Abbi would like to believe? It wasn't hard to wonder "what if", especially as the tale unfolded I found myself constantly questioning Kate's motives myself. The only character I had a hard time with was Scott; his complete lack of empathy towards Meredith throughout the story and inability to put his foot down with Abbi (in the end) just didn't sit right. When it came to Abbi, oh I just wanted to pull her out of the book and hug her to pieces. Her innocence and willingness to go to any lengths to create memories with her long lost mother just broke my heart.
"When She Returned" takes you on a whirlwind of emotions, as Lucinda Berry's books often do! There's the utter sadness and despair of loss and the unknown, the shock and almost pure happiness of return, the uncertainty of how to proceed with looming skepticism and finally the absolute horror while coming to terms with the severity of the situation. Plus, who could forget the ultimate twist at the end! This title earned its 5 Stars without a doubt!
If you're anything like me and enjoy a good story that truly pushes you to the edge of your seat in suspense where you literally can't turn (or rather swipe) the pages fast enough then you need to experience Lucinda Berry's newest and utterly unputdownable book, "When She Returned". The fact that this author is an actual trauma psychologist is what first drew me to her literary work, the experience she provides is why I (and so many others) just keep coming back for more!
>>Side note, the book is told in a "Then" and "Now" narrative from the points of view of Kate, Abbi and Meredith. Knowing absolutely nothing regarding religious cults prior to having read this story, I rather enjoyed getting a true grasp and background when reading the "Then" parts. The "Then" combined with the "Now" really brings everything full circle.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publishers Thomas & Mercer, and the author Lucinda Berry for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Find this review at Misty's Corner Reviews: https://www.mistyscornerreviews.com/2019/09/when-she-returned-by-lucinda-berry.html#more
This review will also be posted on Goodreads along with Misty's Corner Reviews Facebook Page, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Once this title is released on Amazon, I'll be sure to post this review there as well.
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