Book Review: I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

Title: I Don’t Forgive You
Author: Aggie Blum Thompson
Publisher: Forge
Publication date: June 8, 2021
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

An accomplished photographer and the devoted mom of an adorable little boy, Allie Ross has just moved to an upscale DC suburb, the kind of place where parenting feels like a competitive sport. Allie’s desperate to make a good first impression. Then she’s framed for murder.

It all starts at a neighborhood party when a local dad corners Allie and calls her by an old, forgotten nickname from her dark past. The next day, he is found dead.

Soon, the police are knocking at her door, grilling her about a supposed Tinder relationship with the man, and pulling up texts between them. She learns quickly that she’s been hacked and someone is impersonating her online. Her reputation–socially and professionally–is at stake; even her husband starts to doubt her. As the killer closes in, Allie must reach back into a past she vowed to forget in order to learn the shocking truth of who is destroying her life.

Allie is new to the close-knit, overly involved neighborhood when she attends a party that changes everything. The community is full of successful, highly ambitious people whose children all attend the same school. Everyone knows everything about everybody, and it’s cliquey and overwhelming to outsider Allie. After some mild flirting over a glass of wine, Allie finds herself cornered and assaulted in the bathroom, and leaves feeling shaken up and terribly worried about her future in the neighborhood.

Among the neighborhood women, she has few allies, and when she decides to share her terrible experience with her closest neighbor, the word spreads that she’s accused the (now dead) man of assault. The crisis escalates as Allie discovers fake Tinder and Facebook accounts pretending to be her, causing horrible damage to her reputation, and soon leading even her husband to mistrust her.

Meanwhile, an old secret from Allie’s troubled past seems to be resurfacing, and to make matters worse, her mother and sister are entangled in problems as well. As the police start to zero in on Allie as a murder suspect, her panic worsens — there’s no one she can trust, and no one seems to believe that she’s been set up.

I Don’t Forgive You is a fast read, setting up the key conflict quickly and then piling up clues and suspicions left and right. There are lots of possible solutions to the question of who’s setting Allie up and why, and the plot intentionally plays up all the potential misdirections before finally revealing the answers.

The book kept my interest, although I’m not a huge fan of these types of suburban, gossipy neighbor thrillers. I couldn’t feel overly invested in the PTA drama, the judging women treating Allie horribly, or Allie’s own poor decision-making in times of crisis.

My big takeaway from this book is — stay off the internet! It’s like an object lesson in the dangers of identity theft and the value of cyber security. I think Allie’s awareness of online security protocols is probably pretty typical of most people — we assume passwords and firewalls are enough to keep us safe, and we tend to be blind to all the many, many ways people with bad intentions can mess with us.

I Don’t Forgive You is a good entertaining read. It didn’t particularly rise above average for me, but take that with a grain of salt, since thrillers in general aren’t usually my preferred genre. This would make a good summer read, a fun choice for reading in a beach chair or by the pool!

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Shelf Control #135: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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Title: Truly Madly Guilty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Published: 2016
Length: 415 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy right when the book was released.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve read two books by this author already (Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret), and thought both were terrific. And now that she has a new book coming out in November (Nine Perfect Strangers), I should probably make the effort to catch up on her backlist books that are sitting on my shelf.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

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Take A Peek Book Review: The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

Synopsis:

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange’s compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won’t let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park – and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’ll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

 

My Thoughts:

The Family Next Door is a quick read about a neighborhood teeming with secrets. The three women at the center of the story, Essie, Fran, and Ange, are all wives and mothers, and each has her own set of problems and worries that she keeps hidden away behind a facade of domestic bliss. It’s Isabelle’s arrival in the neighborhood that kicks off the cascade of revelations, as secrets come out and lives are upended.

The book is fast-paced, and while some of the secrets may be simpler to guess, the big reveal at the end is shocking and very unexpected. I enjoyed the characters, although overall the tone of the book was a bit too Desperate Housewives for my taste.

For readers who enjoy dramas about marriage, family, lies, and life-long secrets, this will make a great choice for summer beach reading.

Interested in this author? Check out my review of other books by Sally Hepworth:
The Things We Keep
The Mother’s Promise

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The details:

Title: The Family Next Door
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication date: March 6, 2018
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary fantasy
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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Shelf Control #104: The Underside of Joy

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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Title: The Underside of Joy
Author: Seré Prince Halverson
Published: 2012
Length: 384 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Losing a husband is virtually unbearable. Losing your children to the birth mother who abandoned them, whilst you are still grieving, is one heartbreak too far. It must not be allowed to happen …

Ella counts as her blessings her wonderful husband, two animated kids and an extended family who regard her as one of their own. Yet when her soulmate Joe tragically drowns, her life is turned upside down without warning, and she finds that the luck, which she had thought would last forever, has run out. When Joe’s beautiful ex-wife, who deserted their children three years earlier, arrives at the funeral, Ella fears the worst. And she may well be right to.

Ella discovers she must struggle with her own grief, while battling to remain with the children and the life which she loves. Questioning her own role as a mother, and trying to do what is right, all she is sure of is that she needs her family to make it through each day. Yet when pushed to the limits of love, Ella must decide whether she is, after all, the best mother for her children.

How and when I got it:

I ordered a used copy online a few years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I absolutely fell in love with this author’s marvelous 2014 novel All The Winters After, and once I finished, I just couldn’t wait to read more of her work… but sadly, I still haven’t gotten around to starting The Underside of Joy. It sounds like a great story, but potentially a heartbreaker, especially reading from the perspective of a parent.

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Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

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