Gripping tale of a young teen’s desire to overcome her mother’s homicidal shadow. Meet Milly aka Annie. She doesn’t want to be her mother like many daughters. But, they share a bond that one’s actively trying to cut, while at the same time, running towards. As she awaits her mother’s trial, and stays with a foster family, she realizes that familial bonds attached themselves deeper than DNA strands.
Trigger Warning: Child kidnapping/murder (While not detailed may pain others); Attempted rape; Bullying
As mentioned, Milly/Annie’s mother’s a serial killer awaiting trial in The U.K. While starring as star witness, she faces psychological twists and turns within herself as she stays in the home of a child psychologist appointed as foster guardian. She’s gets a new name and a new school, along with the trappings of such attributes.
As the story progresses, Milly/Annie swings against those twists and turns, figuring how to win the nature/nurture debate lurking within her.
Milly/Annie works as a formidable protagonist to follow. She’s a teenager dealing with, not only with a mother she loves and hates equally, but bullying and scars from her previous life. Will she become her mother? Will she gain safety and normalcy? She’s walking a fine line between what she believes is the nurturing of homicidal tendencies by her mother and natural instincts to chuck them in familial garbage. We don’t get more than a sentence from her mother in a court scene, but her presence certainly lurks throughout the story. It’s menacing, and you cannot help but sympathize with a character of which we seek reassurance by story’s end.
The story’s supporting cast manage to up the ante in tension. She lives with a child psychologist and his wife, both with issues of their own, including a bullying daughter. Ever see The Bad Seed? Enough said. The family provides more chaos than Milly/Annie needs, but you cannot help but continue reading to see how much of their affluent and subtle madness will cause Milly/Annie to succumb to her nurturing.
Nature vs. Nurture. Big time. What plays a stronger part in one’s upbringing and journey into adulthood? Can horrid situations help or hurt the final outcome? You’ll never sure. Ali Land ping-pongs us into thinking we’ve chosen the right winner until she swings us around again.
1. Quick pacing. Your heart thumps as you turn each page, and Milly/Annie’s storyline asks that you continue on the journey towards the end.
2. Even characters aren’t necessarily untrustworthy, you feel grim set on them, despite not doing anything wrong. Trust no one.
3. The Ending’s satisfying. I despised one character and Land rewarded me after her tortuous efforts.
4. Normally, you see stories about abusive, demented fathers. Is it odd to say I find reading stories about mothers in the same boat refreshing? Equality for the win, I suppose?
5. It’s set in The U.K., particularly London and the Devon era. For me, one can never go wrong with this setting.
6. Milly’s/Annie’s inner monologue reads like an actual teenager, granted one in a horrid situation. But, she’s not snarky to the point of rolling my eyes inside my head until stuck. She’s an actual teenager with issues.
I know I said I liked the ending. However, heavy foreshadowing led me to figure the story’s ending earlier than desired. Even so, I found its wrap-up satisfying, given the person involved.
Verdict: 4/5 Newspaper Clippings