Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight (3 out of 5)
You know I read Reconstructing Amelia a month ago and loved it to death. F loved this book so much and couldn’t tell me enough how much she loved it and tore through it. I have a feeling she’s going to read Reconstructing Amelia and say it was just okay. The only time I can recall her and I having a disagreement of seismic proportions was when we both read Rules of Civility years back. Anyhow, I liked this book well enough, but it did not grab me the way her first title did. Still, not a bad little read all around. Book clubs are going to love this. Suburban moms are going to love this. Book critics are going to love this. It has all the makings of book that will no doubt be optioned into a movie or made-for-tv movie down the road. I just don’t love this, and not just because the entire premise of this book leans more than a bit from a book that I unequivocally love: Gillian Flynn’s outstanding debut novel Sharp Objects. I’ve read a similar psychological makeup in her novel, that repeats here in McCreight’s novel. Again, this doesn’t stop me from reading and saying I enjoyed Where They Found Her. For I did, just not as much as I had hoped to.
Ridgedale, New Jersey, is at the end of a long winter when the body of a baby girl is found in the woods not far from the town’s university. Molly Sanderson is new to town and a freelance journalist who gets the “lucky” task of reporting the discovery of the baby’s body, in the local paper. Molly’s not doing too well herself, as she’s still coming out of a deep depression after the death of her baby. Too close for comfort? Perhaps, except what she uncovers is decades worth of secrets and lies that are quite colored under Ridgedale’s white picket fences. Her sweet husband Justin isn’t much better; he’s almost too nice, almost too exempt from the pain that he seems, at times, to be plastic. (In case you can’t tell, I didn’t like Justin very much). Molly, as a character, drove me crazy, but in a different way. Justin is sickly sweet for the most part (too good to be true), and Molly makes herself to be a martyr chapter after chapter. Maybe it was a coping mechanism, maybe it was grief, maybe it was a plot device by McCreight for us to identify more closely with the lead character. I don’t know, but neither one of them were characters I connected with. The next major characters are police chief Steve and his wife, supermom Barbara. These two have a more realistic marriage and their kids are just kids, warts and all. Stella, Barbara’s “melodramatic” friend, is a single mom struggling with raising her two kids on her own. Then there are Jenna and her daughter Sandy, who work at a local bar that’s considered semi-seedy in a town as la-dee-da as Ridgedale. Multi-dimensional and layered stories and characters intersect and slowly, truths and lies start revealing themselves. There are moments of surprise, but the closer I got to the end, the closer I got to “I think I know what happened here”. Oddly enough, I did guess what happened and who did it. In a story where there are so many twists and turns and multiple characters, it should have been harder to do so.