Book Title: How I Lost You
Author: Jenny Blackhurst
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Pub Date (US): 10/10/17
I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address, and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?
This is the type of book that is my worst nightmare come to life; any mother of small children knows what a delicate, fragile state you are in during your kid’s first year of life and the premise of this story is so real and hard to swallow that it makes for a powerful read. As a woman who has struggled with postpartum depression/anxiety previously, I could totally relate to Susan Webster on a certain level. No, I didn’t kill either of my children, but I’ve visited some deep, dark places that I would never wish upon anyone. I could give a trigger warning for those who have been through a similar experience, as it very well might be too much for someone too close to that current situation, but as a survivor of this type of mental illness I felt wholly capable of reading this book without it being too disturbing to my psyche. Proceed at your own caution, but know that this book was well worth the time and emotional effort required of me to read it, in my humble opinion.
What immediately grabbed me with How I Lost You was the format in which the story is told. The prologue is Susan’s letter to her parole board in a plea for consideration of release and also as a confession of remorse toward the horrible act she committed. After that, each chapter mostly alternates between present day, which is directly after Susan is released from prison and has changed her name officially to Emma, and these flashbacks to a group of boys committing atrocities that are seemingly unrelated to the present day. There are multiple mysteries that tie together into a single storyline, which is just the type of read I love most. The intrigue between each thread that appeared to be separate coming together was what really won me over, and I was gripped from beginning to end. This was a bit of a slow burn in the beginning that picked up over time, and until the end was more of a psychological suspense than a full blown thriller with action sequences.
I can certainly see why this book was so popular in the UK that it made it’s way across the pond to be published in the US as well; with the twisty psychological thriller still being highly coveted, How I Lost You has remained wholly relevant on the mystery/thriller/suspense scene, even after multiple years between publications. It won’t be for everyone, and those who are particular savvy with psychological thrillers may figure out the ending, but I can honestly say I didn’t have it all solved and only picked up on parts here and there. I felt the ending was perfect; while there was much needed closure on the big mystery, it also left a bit to the imagination which is always appreciated here. If you enjoy a book full of twisted suspense that is dark, gripping, and a bit disturbing, go ahead and pick up Jenny Blackhurst’s How I Lost You and add it to your fall line up!
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.
You can purchase How I Lost You via Amazon HERE!