122. The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Synopsis (as taken from Amazon) is as follows:

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey–and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide–including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

Ability to read – I didn’t have any difficulty with reading this. I read it off the back of ‘The Last House Guest’ in an attempt to distract me from a sinus headache. I read it over the course of two evenings and was surprised by how quickly I was drawn into the book and by how much I wanted to push through to the end and uncover all the secrets.

Characterisation – Leah Stevens was a character that grew on me the longer I stayed reading about her. I went through many phases with her character, from rallying behind her to outright annoyance and irritating ridiculousness. Part of me couldn’t understand how she’d not seen things as they are and the other part of me rallied around her personality and stood next to her as she continued her journey. There was something compelling about her character that made me want to stay and find out all about her and what was happening to her. She was a steady character who, at one point, I wasn’t even sure would make it to the end of the book. She was strong and brave, determined yet fearful, guilty and innocent. She had the perfect balance of attributes that had me both standing at her side and standing against it.

Clarity comes later in life, as humans we don’t often see what’s happening until it’s right above us. This book, Leah specifically, made me think a lot about human nature and how adept we are at blending in and hiding parts of ourselves from others. Emmy Grey was a mystery, a secret niggle in my brain that the book refused to reveal. Her character was complex and shrouded in mystery and yet all that I theorised about her was wrong.

Megan Miranda has a way of making characters that get under your skin. Characters that you can connect to but wonder why. Character who are defined, not only by their vivid backstories but by their actions and thoughts. The blub of this book intrigued me but it was the character’s that made me stay.

Visualisation – As with ‘The Last House Guest’, I was more focused on the characters than the scenes. For me, it was the characters and their interactions between each other that fueled my desire to continue reading. I could clearly see the characters as they were presented to me and could visualise them as they moved around and through their thoughts, actions, dialogue and behaviours.

Enjoyment – This was the perfect book for me to read because it made me think a lot about the actions of people in the real world and how easy it is to be lured into something that isn’t real without realising it. For me, it was a compelling story of the dynamics between a taker and a giver and how the reality of a situation isn’t always something you can predict. Sometimes, you see the light clearly when the train is about to hit you, not, when the first whispers of something wrong occurred. There were many turns in this book that I was not expecting and I felt that there were many avenues that this book could have taken. I enjoyed the singularity of Leah’s case and where she had come from and what she stood for.

Leah’s character had the ability to crumble and fade, to become irritating and one tone but I found a determination in her character and a strength that showed the true power of her character. It was a reminder that we can all turn and change in a moment of desperation and fear.

I was very impressed by this book, it’s definitely a book I want to hold on to. If not for the storyline, then for the characters that wormed their way into my heart.

Star Rating – ★★★★★

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