Back of the book :
What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed ?
Dahila’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existance travelling the country with her eccentric mother. Years later, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward : she has questions.
In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave like mounds on a neighbouring farm, Dahlia learns that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered …
What I think :
Dahlia has returned home to the small town of Aurora, To take care of her mother, Memphis, who has gone a bit batty. And also to ask her mother about her childhood before its too late. Dahlia doesn’t remember much about her childhood, she knows she never went to school, and her mother said that she ‘home schooled’ her, but she can’t actually remember her mother being there much. She just remembers moving around a lot. These are the type of things that she needs to ask her about. She’s been home a for a little while when one day she goes out for a jog and finds a a woman almost buried in the woods. It turns out that the woman is still alive and in a coma, but no-one seems to know who she is. This incident for Dahlia starts to bring up forgotten memories, what secrets has her mother been keeping all these years … ?
Quinn is only young when her father meets and marries Sigrid. They don’t really get on, so when her father dies unexpectedly when she’s a teenager, she’s left to her own devices. Sigrid is on the lookout for another husband and doesn’t take any notice of what Quinn is doing. When Quinn gets herself a boyfriend, Bennito, she starts sneaking out at night to meet him, one night after Quinn and Bennito meet up, she decides to walk home through the woods. Its there she is attacked and raped by three men, and is injured quite badly. After around three months Sigrid tells her that its time to get herself a husband. She goes to a house sale and it’s there she meets Nolan Creed. when after only a few months he asks her to marry him, she jumps at the chance. She moves to a small town and onto his family farm. Will she be able to bear to live there and will Nolan still want her when he finds out her secret … ?
I want to first say that I really enjoyed Alexandra’s first book ‘little girl lost’ so I was quite excited to read this one. I must admit, it does start off quite slowly and does take a while to get going. However once its gets into it stride it shapes up to be a brilliant novel.
I really did like this book, it has many twists and quite a few turns. It really does take you on quite a roller coaster ride. It is quite dark in places. I found the relationship between Dahlia and her mother quite odd, if I’m honest. Sometimes OK with each other and others like her mother hated her and sometimes like she didn’t even know her at all. But I think that if they’d have gotten on all time it wouldn’t have added to the atmosphere of the book.
I did have one compliant and that was I had trouble fitting Quinn and Aella in. You don’t find out who they are and how they fit until quite far into the book and if I’m truthful it did throw me a bit.
I enjoyed this book and give it 8/10 (4 stars)
Published on 23/02/17 by Avon Books.
A very big Thank you to Avon books and Helena Sheffield for the review copy of the book in return for a honest review.
Here for your reading pleasure is an extract of the book :
They stopped once for the night, in Albuquerque. The name of the city intrigued the girl, so she looked it up in the encyclopedia she carried with her. It was her most prized possession.
Albuhkirkee … She silently repeated the word until it lost all meaning. The girl caught herself drifting off into some paranoid daydream, not knowing what time it was or where they were going. They had never driven this far for so long, never had to pump gas so many times.
Weary with the burden of her heavy eyelids, she was drunk with sleep by the time her mother stopped at a hotel. Rodeside Inn, the sign read. All she’d remember later were the weeds that grew through the cracks of the concrete parking lot.
The next morning, her mother bought donuts at a drive-through and they got back on the road. The girl went to sleep, but when she woke up and looked out the window, the scenery hadn’t changed at all. After days on the road, she felt as if she was leaking electricity. The hours stretched, and she wished her mother hadn’t thrown her bag in the trunk of the Lincoln—she longed for her American Girl magazine and the jelly bean–flavored ChapStick.
She opened a bag of Red Vines, sucked on them, and then gently rubbed them over her lips until they turned crimson.
Running her fingers across the cracked spine of her encyclopedia—the first pages were missing and she’d never know what words came before accordion; a box-shaped bellows-driven musical instrument, colloquially referred to as a squeezebox—she concentrated on the sound of the pages rustling like old parchment as she flipped through the tattered book.
Her mother called her Pet. The girl didn’t like the name, especially when her mother introduced her. This is Pet, she’d say with a smile. She’s very shy. Then her mother moved on quickly, as if she had told too much already.
Pet, the encyclopedia said, a domestic or tamed animal kept for companionship. Treated with care and affection.
The girl opened the encyclopedia to a random page. She remembered when it was new, how the pages and the spine had not yielded as readily, and she wondered if the pages would eventually shed. She attempted to focus on a word but the movement of the car made her nauseous. Eventually she just left the book cracked open in her lap.
“My feet are cold. Can I get a pair of socks from the trunk?” she asked somewhere after the New Mexico/Texas border.
“Not now,” her mother said and checked her watch.
The girl fell asleep again and later awoke to the slamming of the car door. She rubbed her eyes and her surroundings came into focus: red brick walls, a large sign that read Midpoint Café, her mother standing by a pay phone only a few feet away, rummaging through her purse for change. It was noon and the girl felt ravenous as she stared at a display poster of fries and milkshakes in the café window.
“I’m hungry,” she called out to her mother.
“It has to be quick, we have to be somewhere,” the mother said, and the girl slid on her sandals in a hurry.
In the gloom of the dingy café, their knees touched under the narrow table. The mother opened up a newspaper left behind in the booth and scanned the headlines.
The girl had so many questions: Why are we rushing?; Who did you call?; Where are we going?; Why did we drive all the way from California to Texas?—she had the whole conversation planned out, knew exactly what to ask: short, direct questions that left no room for vague and elusive answers. The place was loud and crowded and the diners competed with one another to be heard, creating an overall atmosphere of raucousness. In the background, a baby cried and a waitress dropped a plate.
They ordered lunch—French fries and a strawberry shake for the girl, coffee and a Reuben sandwich, no sauerkraut, for the mother—and while they waited for their order to arrive, the mother excused herself. “I have to make another call, I’ll be right back.”
She ate and watched the diners and minutes later, her mother returned. She had seemingly perked up, now appeared bubbly, almost as if in a state of anticipation, and her eyes moved quickly. “Let’s play a game,” she said and opened the paper. “Tell me a number between one and twenty-two.”
The girl loved numbers. Numerology; belief in divine, mystical or other special relationship between a number and a coinciding event. The number 7 was her favorite one. 7 meant she was a seeker, a thinker, always trying to understand underlying hidden truths.
“Seven,” the girl said and silently recited random facts: seven ancient wonders of the world, seven days of the week, seven colors of the rainbow.
They ate silently, the girl devouring the fries, then taking her time with the milkshake, studying the people around her while her mother skimmed page seven of the newspaper. She wondered how naming a number of a page was a game to begin with, but her mother seldom answered questions posed to her, and so she didn’t ask.
The mother paid the check and the waitress counted out the change.
Just as the girl attempted to decipher the headline the mother had been studying, she called out to her. “Hurry up, Pet.”
The girl did as she was told.
Later, the mother rolled down the window and the girl watched her check her face in the rearview mirror. When a siren sounded, the mother licked her lips, fluffed her hair, and pulled into a dirt patch where three wooden posts formed an entrance with a cow skull nailed to its very top. An officer appeared next to the car.
“Your headlight’s out,” he said and scanned the car’s interior.
The police officer was lean with closely cropped hair and skin the color of nutmeg. The mother got out of the car, pulled her red scarf tighter around her head. Her hair fluttered in the wind, her clothes clung to her body, and her arms were tightly wrapped around her.
The girl noticed a boy in the back of the police cruiser. “What did he do?” she called out to the officer.
“He didn’t do anything. That’s my son, Roberto,” he said, “he’s just riding along.”
The next time the girl turned around, her mother and the officer were standing in the shade of a large oak tree. Her mother’s voice trailed toward the car like pearls rubbing gently against each other. The officer leaned back and laughed at something her mother said.
Later, the mother drove to a motel, where the girl fell into a deep sleep. The next morning, after free coffee from the dingy lounge and day-old donuts, they emerged from the Aurora Police Precinct with paperwork in their hands. When the girl read the paperwork, it stated Memphis Waller and her daughter Dahlia Waller had been robbed by the side of the road, including the mother’s wallet and identification.
Dahlia; flower, symbolic meaning of a commitment and a bond that lasts forever.
The girl did not ask questions. She was glad to finally have a proper name and no one, not even her mother, would refer to her as Pet ever again.
Later, she would remember that the sky was overcast and turning darker by the minute.