Sunday, March 27, 2022

This Might Hurt

This Might Hurt
  This Might Hurt
Author:  Stephanie Wrobel
Publication Information:  Berkeley. 2022. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0593100085 / 978-0593100080

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and a publisher's blog tour free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I stand at the head of the conference table."

Favorite Quote:  "Did we know we were making our favorite memories while they were happening?"

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Wisewood is a place. More than that, Wisewood is a state of mind. "Guests" are expected to come and stay for a minimum of six months. Some come and never leave. During their stay, guests are expected to adhere strictly to the rules. Rules such as no phone, no contact with the outside world, no physical contact with other guests, assigned chores, no leaving, and more. The goal - to help each guest focus entirely on themselves and become fearless.

All Natalie Collins knows is that her sister Kit disappeared into this world about six months ago and has not reappeared. That might have been okay since Natalie and her sister have been estranged. However, Natalie receives an email from someone at Wisewood that they will reveal her secret to Kit. What secret? The email does not say, but Natalie know. So, of course, she takes herself off to Wisewood, find Kit and either prevent the secret from coming out or tell Kit herself before someone else does.

So begins this somewhat confusing story of a cult. There are multiple narrators - Natalie, Kit, and a third unnamed narrator. There are also multiple time periods - the present at Wisewood, Natalie and Kit's childhood, Kit's time as she comes to Wisewood, and an undefined time in the life of the third narrator. Eventually, it all comes together but...

As a reader, it takes me way too long to realize there are three narrators - and not just Natalie and Kit -  and then it takes me way too long to identify who the third narrator is. By the time I realize the connection, it is a little too late to go back, reread and develop a better sense of this character, to redefine the characters who are not this narrator, and bring it all together into what happens next.

This book is dark. The images of child abuse and the physical and psychological scars it leaves are heart wrenching and disturbing. The abuse is relentless. This book does hurt and should absolutely contain trigger warning that is not currently in the book description. The fact that because of the multiple narrators, I realize late in the book the victim of this abuse makes the book a challenge. That unfortunately lessons the understanding of the far-reaching impact that childhood abuse can have.

Beyond the story of the two sisters or really the story of the third narrator, the book is a view into a cult. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this book is the concept on which the cult is based - the idea of facing fears and living live fearlessly. That idea has merit and can likely be found in much of personal development literature and training. To see an idea of merit devolve into a cult with such negative ramifications is relevant to today's world. That view, rather than the characters or the story, is my lasting memory of this book.

About the Author

Stephanie Wrobel grew up in Chicago but lives in the UK for the past three years with her husband and dog, Moose Barkwinkle. She has an MFA from Emerson College and has had short fiction published in Bellevue Literary Review. She is also the author Darling Rose Gold and has been a creative copywriter at various advertising agencies.

About the Book

From the USA Today bestselling and Edgar-nominated author ofDarling Rose Gold comes a dark, thrilling novel about two sisters—one trapped in the clutches of a cult, the other in a web of her own lies.

Welcome to Wisewood. We’ll keep your secrets if you keep ours.

Natalie Collins hasn’t heard from her sister in more than half a year.

The last time they spoke, Kit was slogging from mundane workdays to obligatory happy hours to crying in the shower about their dead mother. She told Natalie she was sure there was something more out there.

And then she found Wisewood.

On a private island off the coast of Maine, Wisewood’s guests commit to six-month stays. During this time, they’re prohibited from contact with the rest of the world—no Internet, no phones, no exceptions. But the rules are for a good reason: to keep guests focused on achieving true fearlessness so they can become their Maximized Selves. Natalie thinks it’s a bad idea, but Kit has had enough of her sister’s cynicism and voluntarily disappears off the grid.

Six months later Natalie receives a menacing e-mail from a Wisewood account threatening to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Panicked, Natalie hurries north to come clean to her sister and bring her home. But she’s about to learn that Wisewood won’t let either of them go without a fight.

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