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As parents, we know we are not supposed to have a favourite child. But come on, you know you do… Even if it changes on an hourly basis. Hannah and Joe have two daughters – one is confident, beautiful, and competent. The other, Dawn, has been the family underdog her whole life, not helped by her lazy eye.. Dawn is bullied (“Ding-Dong Dawn”), does less well at school and has few genuine friends. A mother’s heart can’t help but break a little every time life knocks Dawn back again. So when Dawn brings home a new very handsome, charismatic boyfriend, things are a bit unsettling. What could he possibly want with Ding- Dong Dawn? Things just seem “off”.
Then tragedy strikes. Dawn’s parents are the victims of a brutal home invasion. Joe is killed. Hannah survives but her head injuries are such that she has very little memory of that awful night. Dawn’s new boyfriend is charged with the attack and murder, and is ultimately convicted. Having initially taken her boyfriend’s side in the trial, Dawn returns home to her battered mother three years later, full of daughterly support when the boyfriend wins an appeal against his conviction. Dawn seems reluctant for Hannah to upset herself by trying to remember the events of that night so that she can testify at the appeal. But why? What is Dawn hiding? What does she not want Hannah to remember?
This story is somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster. Reading about Hannah’s pain in watching her awkward daughter grow into an even more awkward, lonely young woman is heart-breaking. Even more wrenching is Hannah’s desperate attempt to believe that Dawn could not possibly have had anything to do with the awful attack, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. I couldn’t put this book down – I found myself, like Hannah, urgently needing answers.
This book will appeal to anyone who enjoyed We Need to Talk About Kevin or Gone Girl. Although there are no shocking twists or surprises, as there were in those two bestsellers, this book will fill you with the same “what the heck has happened here?” sense of foreboding and dread. This is a riveting yet disturbing read.
Review by Tiffany Matsis
If She Did It
by Jessica Treadway
Published by Sphere