Tuesday, June 13, 2017

But a dreamer's never cured: I FOUND YOU.

I Found YouI Found You by Lisa Jewell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Alice Lake is a frazzled single mother of three children. One day she spots a man on the beach; he is alone and getting drenched in the rain. Despite her better judgement, Alice goes to talk to him. He has no memory of who he is or where he came from. Alice is drawn to him, and she invites him to stay in the shed on her property. Her young daughter dubs him "Frank." Meanwhile, in Surrey, Lily reports her husband missing. Married for less than a month, Lily cannot believe that her husband would simply abandon her: they are madly in love. She hasn't been in the country for long, though, and soon Lily learns that the name on her husband's passport was fake: he never truly existed. Cut to more than twenty years ago: teenagers Gray and Kirsty are (reluctantly) on vacation with their parents. While on the beach, they meet a young man who clearly has eyes for fifteen-year-old Kirsty. He charms their parents, but quickly rubs Gray the wrong way. Together, these characters combine for Jewell's latest.

This was a rather spellbinding novel for me, even if it requires you to sort of check your rational thought at the front door when beginning it. Alice is a bit of an odd duck--a loner mom with three children by three different fathers who doesn't really play by the rules. The fact that she so easily invites a complete stranger, with no history or backstory, to stay with her family is rather bizarre. As is everyone's reluctance to not just report Frank missing (found?), to say, the police. But we're led to believe that this is rather par for the course for the eccentric Alice and if you can just go along with that, the story falls into place fairly easily. This novel probably came along at a good point for me: I'd just finished a big project at work and needed something for a quick escape. I FOUND YOU is perfect for that: I blew through it in about 24 hours and while I basically had things figured out, it kept me guessing the entire time, wondering if I was right.

I was never truly attached to any of Jewell's characters - Alice is a bit flighty, Lily a tad remote, and Gray and Kirsty a little young. If anything, I was almost more drawn to "Frank" and his predicament. Still, I enjoyed how the story unfolded in bits and pieces, slowly letting the reader in on the past, while still giving us points of view from Lily, Alice, and Frank in the present. As I said, I was never quite sure if I was on the right track with the story, which kept me compulsively reading. Many of the characters' decisions are a bit bizarre, but I still found this to be a fun, quick read for a bit of an escape. Overall, 3.5+ stars. Great for a vacation or an airplane ride.

You can read my reviews of two of Jewell's previous novels here: THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN and THE THIRD WIFE.

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