The Lies We Hide - S.E. Lynes
Reading Challenge Category: Free ARC from NetGalley
The truth can set you free, or make you a prisoner… Thirty years ago, Nicola Watson lived with her parents and older brother in a respectable suburb. At ten years old, she didn’t yet understand why her stomach tightened when she heard her father’s heavy tread as he returned home late at night, or why it made her brother Graham’s stammer get worse, or why one night her mother Carol woke them both, wide-eyed and whispering, and took them out of their home and into the unknown. Now a successful lawyer in the city, with a life poles apart from her dark beginnings, Nicola has returned home for her mother’s funeral. But as she stands in her mother’s house, remembering the woman who sacrificed everything for her children, Nicola has to confront the guilt that she feels for leaving her family behind. And the belief that she played a part in the events that led to her brother going to prison for murder. All Carol wanted was to protect her children, but escaping her husband was only the beginning of the story. And when Nicola learns the truth of what her mother did, it will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.
I knew when I requested this book on NetGalley that it wasn’t the author’s usual Psychological Thriller, so I went in with no preconceptions. I did find it very slow going, to begin with, it didn’t feel like a lot was happening other than the retelling of the past. It was, however, well written, and the characters were likeable, so this kept me reading. I did keep expecting something significant to happen or a major twist, but even though there are a few revelations at the end, it is just a steady-paced story. We start off in the present with Nicola learning of her mother’s passing. The present chapters are interspersed with the past telling the bigger picture and of everyone’s history. Carol has suffered from years of abuse from her husband and one night it reaches breaking point, and she escapes with her two children. The past tells a tale not only of their escape but of overcoming the torment they had endured. They have to learn how to move forward with their lives, and this story concentrates on how that isn’t always easy. Graham, the eldest son, has his own demons and his side of the story was very interesting, especially when he is interacting with Richard, the chaplain. It was a very sombre and melancholy story and made for tough reading in places. This is actually the fourth book from NetGalley that I have read about domestic abuse, without really meaning to. It must be a popular choice of topic at the moment. This story did grip me more than the others, though, which is good! The more entangled you get in the story, the more emotionally entwined you feel with the characters. It was such a blow every time we were back in the 2019 chapters and reminded that Carol had died. It was like a sucker punch to the stomach every time. The way the story was told it really felt as if you were there along for the ride, so despite the slowness of the story the way it encaptured me took it from a three to a four-star. I think I will remember this story for quite a while.