Sunday, November 22, 2020

The New Husband

Title:  The New Husband
Author:  DJ Palmer
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2020. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1250107490 / 978-1250107497

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It was a chilly predawn morning when Anthony Strauss eased Sweet Caroline, his seventeen-foot Boston Whaler, from the trailer into water so dark it was indistinguishable from the sky."

Favorite Quote:  "Judging others is easy. It makes us feel superior. But it doesn't help women like Allison, or my father, or my mother, or me, or anyone who is 'different.' It hurts. So what to do? It's simple. Don't rush to judgment. Have humility. Show empathy. Ask: what can I do to help?"

Let me begin at the ending. I loved the ending. If you choose to read this book, make sure that you do not skip the epilogue. Not only does it being the story all together, it also spells out whose story this is. It also highlights the lesson of the book. I find myself reading throughout the book thinking about how certain characters do not see what seems so obvious to me. The ending makes it clear that this is somewhat the point of the book. Sometimes, the emotional and mental place we find ourselves in can prevent us from seeing what is in front of us.

Nina Garrity is the wife. Her husband Greg goes on a fishing trip one day and disappears. Nina discovers that there is much she does not know about her husband. Eventually, she presumes that he is dead. Her son Connor follows her belief. Her daughter Maggie though firmly believes that her father will return.

Then, there is Simon. Simon is there when Nina needs a friend. He seems to know her, some days even better than Greg did. He takes care of her and offers much more than comfort. To stay in town when Nina's finances cannot support it, they buy a house together. They do not marry, but Simon is de facto the new husband. Connor sees Simon as a friend, but Maggie does not. Nina tries to be the bridge, holding everything together.

This book is not a mystery in that it is clear who the villain of the book is. Early on, it is also made clear what happens to Greg. The "thriller" aspect of the book evolves as the reader sees exactly how far the villain will go to attain his goal. Truly, though, this book is about the angst and the seeming contradictions of being in a abusive relationship.

Nina is a social worker. After Greg's disappearance, she is easily able to get back into a paying job in the industry. She knows the language, implications, and legalities of situations of abuse. She is a fierce mother, on the one hand calling out her children's behavior and on the other seeking to protect them. Yet, at the same time, she cannot seeing the controlling, manipulative behaviors in Simon. She does not question how Simon appears to know her every like and dislike.

It takes me a while to figure out that this book is really Maggie's story much more so than it is Nina's although it is told from both perspectives. Maggie is a teenager, who has had her own issues with bullies in school. Given the age of the character, the book does at times have a young adult feel which belies both the title and the cover of the book. Her dislike and distrust of Simon are also never completely explained. Why is she the only one? Why does her one friend believe her but not her mother or for the most part her older brother?

If I trust the explanation of the epilogue, I believe it. If I don't, then I wonder. Thankfully, I have neither the knowledge or experience to assess. So, in the interest of a good read, I choose to follow the logic of the epilogue.

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

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