Mini Book Reviews: Survive the Night | The Impossible Truths of Love | We Are Not Like Them | My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of recent NetGalley books that I’ve read and enjoyed.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

I can never resist a new Riley Sager book and have been eagerly anticipating this one. I picked it up and read it all in one day as it was written in such a way that I just didn’t want to put it down. We’re following Charlie who is really struggling after her best friend was murdered and now she’s leaving Uni. She finds Josh on the ride share board at school and says goodbye to her boyfriend. We find out that Charlie has had a tough life and when things are really bad she sees movies in her head overlaying what is really happening. The first half of this novel was gripping, I was unnerved with suspicions (and to be honest hopes) of where the novel might go as Charlie becomes increasingly unnerved by Josh. Unfortunately, the novel instead went in a much more predictable direction and ultimately left me feeling a bit disappointed. Having said that, I couldn’t put the book down so it was clearly gripping and it was enjoyable enough for the most part.

The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

This novel is told in two timelines: the present day follows Nell as she’s left reeling following a deathbed confession by her father; and it follows Annie 35 years earlier as we see her starting her family and making decisions that will have consequences down the line. I love Hannah Beckerman’s writing and this book is beautiful. I really felt for Nell to have to deal with what her dad said and then not be able to talk to anyone about it as her mum has dementia and now her dad is gone, and to know she might never be able to find out what he meant. The fraught relationship that Nell has with her two older sisters felt really realistic and I ended up feeling for all of them. The two timelines move forwards and you’re left wondering how they’ll converge and what happened in the past. It wasn’t something I saw coming but it felt completely believable and was heartbreaking. I definitely recommend this book!

We Are Not Like Them by Christina Pride & Jo Piazza

Riley and Jen have been friends for many years and now they’re excited to be back living in the same city again. Jen is white and Riley is black but this has never been something they’ve thought about. But now Jen’s white police officer husband has been involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and suddenly they have to confront what this means for their friendship. I found this book quite hard to get into but once it clicked I found it really hard to put down. There are so many issues covered within this story and it really felt believable and realistic. I was much more on Riley’s side and felt that Jen was at times wilfully being ignorant of why her friend felt the way she did, but then we’d be back with Jen and I could see why she was torn. This is such a prescient novel that really makes you think and it’s one that I would recommend to everyone.

My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor

This book is heartbreaking. Helen has grown up with a mother who is often cold and cruel, who is always ill and needs rest every afternoon so Helen as a child had to learn to play in complete silence. She doesn’t know any different than how her own home life is and accepts this as being how it is for everyone but it does start to affect her own mental health. Helen really shows how complex her relationship to her mother is, that she loved her mother but also feared being trapped into looking after her for ever. There is a real exploration of how complicated the aspect of looking back on her mother’s life was for Helen and it’s these parts towards the end of the book that really struck a chord with me. This is the point when it felt the reader was really let in to how everything has affected Helen. Helen’s mother behaved monstrously, not just to Helen but to others as well, and it’s uncomfortable to think about whether this woman was a monster or whether she was mentally unwell. I think this contradiction is something Helen must waiver on too as the title says Munchausen’s but in the book her mother is referred to as a narcissist. It is always so difficult to confront who a parent really was, and I definitely felt for Helen as she grappled with this throughout the book. This book isn’t always easy to read but it’s a book that I would recommend.