I think I can understand all the positive reviews. The story was good. It was gripping and engaging.
But I really had issues with some aspects. It was written in 2006. As far as I can see, the pub date and the award were both 2006. Maybe it had been written long ago, and published later? Hear me out. The only reason a character uses a computer is for school. A mobile phone is only used once in a while for calls. The main character visits the Library of Congress and uses… microfiche? And calls directory assistance to reach the public records office in a city in a different state? As a twenty-something in 2006, I can tell you that those functions had been replaced by computers and the internet. Finding those answers didn’t require leaving the house.
Also, the main character is 26 and still living at home with her mother and 23 year old sister. Yet no one seems to think this is unusual (okay, it’s mentioned once). And the controlling mother still has control over how the kids spend their time. They aren’t allowed to date as they see fit. There’s no hope for privacy in a place where each visit can only entail either visiting outside or in the “parlor”. And they only ever use the word “mother” to describe the woman who supposedly gave birth to them.
These setting incongruities make it very hard for me to follow the story without feeling like the author has no idea what 21st Century USA looks and feels like. This book feels like it should have been set back decades in time. Or like maybe it was written then and recently edited without much thought put in to some of these things.
I really wanted to like this book. The story was really good. But every time someone said “mother” or “parlor” I got wrenched out of the story and my brain flinched at language people rarely use any longer. And every time a character did something that didn’t fit in with a time period in which mobile phones have become abundant, I was yanked out of the story and found myself asking why someone would act in such a way.
I’m going to try the next book because I hope someone caught these issues and smoothed them over. But I’m not counting on it. And if the issues are still there, I’m sadly going to have to leave Rachel Goddard in my past.