NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson: A Review

Rarely do I read books described as “thrillers.” Either they don’t deliver or the thrill part is so good that it makes me anxious. Never Have I Ever falls into the latter category. This 2019 novel kept me on the edge of my chair and turning pages late into the night.

An excellent, suspenseful read

The story begins with a book club meeting (definitely a plus), and a strange woman who comes to the door wanting to join the group. This new-to-the-neighborhood woman, Roux, is as exotic as her name, especially to the mundane every-day housewives and mothers gathered at Amy’s house for book club. Time magazine calls this a novel with “dramatic reveals about [each] woman’s complex histories.” As the story progresses we meet up with blackmail. family secrets, relationships, second marriages, and step parenting issues.

It is a story of two women, both complex, compelling characters. Amy, the protagonist, the “good guy,” or is she? and Roux, the antagonist, the “bad guy, is she ever! plot against each other as they play out a dangerous game started that fateful night at the book club meeting.

Who knew what lurked in Roux’s past? Who knew the dark secret Amy was hiding? The women of the book club, although secondary characters are well-developed and integral to the progression of the twists and turns of the plot. And the ending–oh the ending –is both exciting and satisfactory.

This is a thriller I highly recommend. It was a “darned good read.”

TUESDAY TEASER

My teaser today comes from The Quiet Child, a suspense novel by John Burley, which I am reading as my “Q” title in my Alphabet Challenge.

Both of his sons, Sean, and Danny, the younger child who does not speak and is referred to by people in his small town as “the quiet child,” were stolen/kidnapped (?) when a man stole Michael’s car when he walked into a store to pick up ice cream. Michael tells the police that he has not heard from the “kidnapper,” but borrows his sister-in-law’s car and takes off for parts unknown. As Michael, the boys’ father, takes things into his own hands, he approaches a freeway exit at the beginning of chapter 18:

“It was eight-thirty in the morning when Michael exited the highway, turned right onto NF-742, and then left onto Butcherknife Road.  He’d spent the night in the car in Grants Pass, and drove the twenty minutes to Wilderville, as soon as he woke. He should’ve eaten and picked up supplies–a canteen and a hunting knife at least– before starting out. It would’ve been wiser.”

Does the quiet, younger brother Danny bring on sickness and bad happenings as the rumour about town goes? Will the townspeople “do something” about the threat from the child? Who has taken the two boys, and why? Will MIchael, their father, kill whoever has abducted his sons? Will their frail mother, who has been cursed with a “wasting disease” since Danny’s birth survive this most recent ordeal?

I am anxious to read more to answer these questions.