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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Book Review: Exhibit Alexandra by Natasha Bell

Do you think all secrets hope eventually to be discovered? I think the loneliest thing in the world might be to never be known.

This was a seriously unusual story, and will happily concede that from the outset I did NOT see things going where they did… I could tell early on that I was in for a weird ride, and that the twists and turns would be thick on the ground, but I did not see the particular whirls or whorls until they were upon me and spent much of the book off-kilter and on the very edges of my seat. Once things came together, there was a little bit of an “Ohhhh” moment, in which I could see how and where many of my questions and guesses took slightly wrong turns, guided oh-so-gently toward false assumptions and misunderstandings. Sometimes this irks me, because I feel like I missed something – here, it actually pleased me because the overall ride was so topsy-turvy. The stomach-bottoming-out feeling was intentional, as were my false starts and early stops – and they all combined together to create a sense of disjointedness that kept me turning pages in a hunt for answers that mirrored Marc’s.

I LOVED the Big Reveal; even if it’s not the first time I’ve seen a story play out this way, I found it to feel thoroughly fresh and it just plain worked for the story. I can’t really say any more – to spoil it would be criminal, because the unfolding is managed so well – so you’ll have to trust me. It just works and you won’t see it coming, and then when it does you’ll join me in the “Ohhh” but still smile and whisper “well played…” to yourself as you frantically turn the page to see where the B.R. is going to take the final bits of story.

There’s a lot of twisted family dynamic here, and a lot of attention to the psychological implications of action and inaction, what happens to trust, how people turn on one another and where defensiveness can lead. It made for fascinating reading (and even more fascinating mind-wandering when I wasn’t reading), even as it sometimes made me a bit squirmy and uncomfortable in my chair. It felt a little like a David Mamet play – you just knew that even the tiny interactions were fully charged, and that eventually that charge would have to be released, and the suspense came from never knowing exactly when (or how) that would come about…

My review copy was provided by the Penguin First to Read program.

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