Review: “I Let You Go,” Clare Mackintosh

Pros: Fascinating story with deep characters
Cons: This needs trigger warnings; depressing
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Holy hell. Never has a book needed trigger warnings (for me personally, at least) more than Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go. This is the kind of story for which the over-used term was created. If you aren’t ready to read some extremely detailed emotional and physical domestic abuse, do not read this book. If anything I found the emotional abuse so much harder to read; there’s too much reality there for me. If you have led a life of domestic bliss and tranquility, however, this might be just the book to help you understand the dynamics of emotional abuse, and why it’s so insidious.

It was a dark, rainy day, and a woman let go of her five-year-old son’s hand for just a moment, with their house right across the street. The boy ran out into the street and was struck by a car that turned around and took off rather than staying to take any kind of responsibility or to help the boy who got hit. Eventually the case goes cold, but there are two members of the police who continue working the case in their spare time.

We also spend time following a woman named Jenna as she moves out into the middle of nowhere, giving up on her sculpting career, but starting a new career in photography. She’s wary and skittish, and glad to be away from people. She’s just started a promising relationship with a veterinarian named Patrick when her life comes tumbling down around her ears and the police come looking for her.

 

The characters have a ton of depth to them. The depiction of an abuser and his victim are spot-on, and it gets unapologetically in-depth into the manipulation and the physical and mental harm. It even gets into the head of the abuser, which was probably the hardest part for me. While we’re waiting to find all of this out, however, the author also does a great job getting into the minds of the police (the story takes place in Britain, just so you know which laws you’re dealing with). Ray and Kate make a great team, with just a little bit of emotional confusion going on.

I found most of the book, particularly once we get into the abuser’s head, to be not just dark, but beyond dark into depressing. I almost didn’t finish it because of that. It’s an extremely well-written book, mind you. It deserves the high score I’m giving it. But for goodness’ sake, make sure you’re up to what you’re about to read.

The abuser and his victim took over so much of the book for me, that I don’t have much to say about what came before. The book is extremely well designed with excellent pacing, complex characters, and genuine fear for what will happen.

 

Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: May 3, 2016

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