Book Review: When the Stars Go Dark
By Alexis Mercer
Two topics that render a book undesirable for me to even open are child abduction and death by cancer. I figure there are so many millions of books in the world, why would I bother with topics that terrify me?
So why the book When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain called to me as I wandered through the shelves in a Barnes and Noble in Harrisburg, Virginia, I’ll have no idea. In fairness, a character’s death by cancer wasn’t on the book cover. But child abduction?
Anna Hart is a detective in the San Francisco area who specializes in missing people. But a personal tragedy causes her to escape her everyday life and head to northern California, where she spent the majority of her childhood. While there she gets sucked into investigating a teenager’s disappearance.
While working through the crime she grapples with her own life’s hardships, both past and present. The loss of her adoptive parents, the tragedy that befell her that caused her to leave San Francisco, the trauma of her childhood.
The cover of this book includes a quote by Kristin Hannah: “A powerhouse of a novel that is guaranteed to keep the reader up all night.” At first I thought it meant because the story unfolded so well that I wouldn’t want to stop reading. Which was true. I flew through the book in two days and stayed up much too late doing so. But, at least for me, the quote also meant that I stayed up thinking about the traumas that were so vividly described in this novel.
For whatever reason this book pulled me in at first sight and I am so glad it did. Emotionally heavy, but a great read nonetheless. The next book I read most definitely fell into the “beach read” category, with absolutely nothing of substance, in order to balance out. But the mixture of intensity was a good change of pace.
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