Thursday, March 21, 2019

Tell Me You're Mine

Title:  Tell Me You're Mine
Author:  Elisabeth Noreb├Ąck
Publication Information:  G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2018. 368 pages.
ISBN:  0735218544 / 978-0735218543

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I'm lying on the floor."

Favorite Quote:  "What is it to miss someone? When someone is taken from you, they take a piece of you with them. A piece that can never be replaced by anything else. The grief, the loss is there forever. And it hurts. It bleeds and aches. It becomes a scab, and it itches, and then it falls off. And it bleeds again. One day it becomes a scar. The wound heals, but the scar remains"

Tell Me You're Mine is a literal title. What makes a mother? Is it giving birth? Is it nurturing? Is it acknowledgement? What creates the bond between a mother and daughter? Is it giving birth? Is it nurturing? Is it acknowledgement?

Having now read the book, the title seems to imply a menace or a threat. Tell me you're mine or else! You are mine whether or not you want to be. You are mine whether not you actually are. That menace does not match the presumption of a mother's love for her daughter, but, then again, not all mothers are nurturing or loving. The question arises. What takes a supposed unconditional love over the edge into an obsession?

These are the questions in this story of three women. Stella is married with a family of her. She is a psychotherapist. She is also a mother who continues to grieve for a lost child. Baby Alice disappeared years ago during a family vacation. The authorities said she drowned, but she was never found. Stella blames herself and believes that Alice is still alive and will be found. No one, including her family, believes that this is possible. As a result, she has been deemed mentally unstable in the past, and now once again walks the same path. Is she though?

Kerstin is a widow with a daughter who is grown and out of the house. She is alone and lonely so she tries to hold on to her daughter. The tighter she holds on, the more distanced her daughter becomes. Embedded in Kerstin's past is a lifetime of secrets.

Isabelle is a young woman trying to find and define her place in life. She has a sense of not belonging and an unstated fear. She seeks help in a group therapy session. This, and perhaps more, brings her to Stella.

The book has other characters, but the three women are the focus. The story shifts perspective from woman to woman, bringing the pieces of the past together and putting their present on a collision course.

With such a small cast of characters, the suspense in this book is not there for me. I guess the dynamic early on. The question is not who did it or even how. The question is why.

The other question, for me as a reader, is do I care? That becomes the biggest stumbling block for me in this book. Perhaps because of the shifting perspectives, perhaps because of the lack of suspense, or perhaps because something is lost in translation, I don't. I am not invested in any of the three main characters. I do keep reading until the end to determine if there might be a twist I don't see coming. Unfortunately, I do not.

Without a compelling suspense to keep me turning the pages, the book becomes a very slow read. The characters don't evolve or change so that does not prompt the page turning either; it becomes somewhat monotone and repetitive. The later part of the book has more "action," but by that time, it's too late for me. Even the action brings no twist or surprise, so the book ends on the same note on which it begins.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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