Having read and enjoyed The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl, both by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, I eagerly awaited their third thriller: You Are Not Alone. I won a copy from Reading Group Gold in exchange for an unbiased review. This review also contains no spoilers which would ruin the story for readers.
Shay witnesses a young woman commit suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. The incident certainly shakes Shay up and starts her on a trajectory she never imagined. Before she witnesses the suicide, Shay is already in a downward spiral, having to take temp jobs while she looks for full-time work. She is staying with her friend Sean in his two-bedroom apartment. Sean’s girlfriend Jody stays at the apartment more and more often, making Shay realize that Jody would definitely like Shay to move out.
Shay talks about what she has witnessed with Detective Williams who investigates the woman’s death. Shay learns the woman’s name is Amanda Evinger; she had been an ER nurse. Because Amanda and Shay are about the same age and because Shay has witnessed the violent death, Shay cannot stop thinking about Amanda and whether she might have been able to save her. When Shay learns Amanda’s friends are holding a memorial for Amanda, Shay decides to attend.
Choosing to attend that memorial puts Shay on a path she could not have dreamed of following. At first, Amanda’s friends Cassandra and Jane are welcoming to Shay and ask her how she has known Amanda. In fact, Cassandra and Jane find ways to meet with Shay and start folding her into their group, or so it would seem.
I found the authors’ choice of naming two main characters Cassandra and Jane interesting. Cassandra was Jane Austen’s older sister and outlived Jane by some years. Did the authors choose those names as a nod to the two Austen sisters? If so, Cassandra and Jane Moore could not be more different from Cassandra and Jane Austen!
After meeting Cassandra and Jane, Shay’s fortunes begin to turn around. She receives a job offer to work from home for a research company based in CA. She finds an apartment; it turns out to have been Amanda’s apartment. Should Shay have begun to see some red flags at that point? Alas, after so much bad luck and being made to feel she is unwelcome at Sean’s place, getting a new job and locating an apartment she can afford makes Shay feel her luck has turned.
Hendricks and Pekkanen provide readers with a cast of deceptive and dazzling characters who interact with Shay. Shay remains the main character, the one who analyzes data and figures out what is really going on, even when she is sleep-deprived and frightened.
You Are Never Alone will keep readers turning pages to see what happens next. Too, Shay’s obsession with data creates interest and adds depth to the story, particularly when it might incriminate Shay. The story is told through the eyes of the characters, with each chapter heading alerting readers to the narrator. Each of Shay’s chapters start with some bit of information she has gleaned.
At the back of the book, readers will be interested in “A Conversation with the Authors.” I had just commented to Theresa, a friend and fellow reader, that I would like to spy on Hendricks and Pekkanen as they work out their stories. In the conversation, they give us insight into their process.
You Are Not Alone became one of Newsweek’s, PopSugar’s, and SheReads’ Most Anticipated Books of 2020.
Greer Hendricks, http://greerhendricks.com/, and co-author Sarah Pekkanen will write the screenplay to The Wife Between Us which has been optioned for a film. Before turning to full-time writing, Hendricks was Vice President and Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster.
Sarah Pekkanen, http://www.sarahpekkanen.com/, became a journalist after graduating from college. She began writing features for the Baltimore Sun. After her three sons were born, she left journalism to become a novelist.