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I took it as a great compliment when the school librarian in our group, who usually chooses trendy new books for adults or Young Adults (like The Help or The Hunger Games) chose this book partly because she had really liked Hold Tight by the same author. I had chosen Hold Tight and that was the first any of us had read of this master craftsman.
He is captivating, clever and completely addicting. I finished this book in about 5 days which is ridiculously fast for me. I did supplement my reading time with the audio CDs but I do that for a lot of books and still don't move through them as quickly. What I find most amazing about Mr. Coben's style is that he makes the scenarios in his book seem completely plausible, even though the main character is no doubt feeling that their life has suddenly become completely implausible. I've only read two of his books but in both of them the characters were so down-to-earth that I could easily imagine them as my neighbor. So along that mindset if the character could be my neighbor than these kinds of situations could be happening right next door. Right under my proverbial nose! And it never would have crossed my mind that anything so life-jarring was going on. Which makes me feel like I'm actually improving my street-smarts by expanding my thinking into areas that I need to be watchful of. To borrow a line from John Green's "The Fault In Our Stars" (an upcoming selection), "The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside them - even though they contain most of our lives."
Needless to say, I now call myself a Harlan Coben fan. I look forward to squeezing other novels by him into my reading repertoire. And, in my spare time, I'm trying to figure out how I can get my husband to read one of these super-engrossing, thoroughly enjoyable miniature works of art.
On a scale of 1 - 5:
Sex - a few weeks later, I can't remember any scenes that stand out. There may have been a mention or two of a couple having spent the afternoon in bed. This IS a love story but NOT a romance novel.
Religion - they did have a proper funeral in a proper church, but nothing overtly religious.
Gruesome - there are some fight scenes but nothing that would turn the average stomach.
Suspense - I might have jumped once, if I had been reading in an old creepy house. But I wasn't. So I didn't. So lacking the completely jump out of your skin quality is the only reason I deduct one point. Otherwise, it is quite engaging with several surprises that might startle you.
Morality - middle of the road morals. Some characters go to great lengths to protect others, but they do it by twisting rules and creating falsehoods. Therefore the morality scale balances itself out.
I was already hooked by the dust jacket. Another book about unrequited love (as I said in my review of "Roses", it is one of my favorite subjects) but with some intrigue. In fact, I became so consumed by the story that I barely took any notes for discussion questions or theme ideas. It was a complete and total suspension of the outside world!
Do you believe in love at first sight?
What were your first ideas about:
- Todd's older children?
- Todd's surprise widow?
- the phone call with Julie (Natalie's sister)?
- the mystery of Natalie?
* was she real?
* why did she always wear a hat and glasses?
* why was she elusive?
Jake realized Natalie didn't trust the police but it seems at the end she does - what caused the change?
What was the biggest shocker of the story?