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Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Viking
Publication Date: 1/27/2015
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
A major new debut thriller about a small-town girl who charms her way into the world of international art fraud
On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went badbut not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag.
And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravelsand she becomes another young woman entirely.
Unbecoming is an intricately plotted and psychologically nuanced heist novel that turns on suspense and slippery identity. With echoes of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith, Rebecca Scherm’s mesmerizing debut is sure to entrance fans of Gillian Flynn, Marisha Pessl, and Donna Tartt.
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Rebecca Scherm’s debut UNBECOMING follows a southern gal from Tennessee to Paris, a flawed and complex young woman on the run, a new name, a new identity, always looking over her shoulder for two men she has known a lifetime. A psychological thriller of love, international art crime, and deception.
Grace grew up in southern Tennessee; however, now she is now a professional international jewel thief. (this girl gets around). A lot to tell in between with flashbacks from point A to B. A good girl, gone bad. Leaving a small town to establish her own identity, for New York where she learns a few tricks and becomes interested in the world of art; learning how to lie, deceive, and pretend she is someone else.
Grace, Riley and Allston grew up together as friends. Riley was the wealthy one as son of a doctor, and Allston grew up hard without money or a mother. Grace was not happy at home and she envied Riley’s family as they were cultured, and glamorous to her, developing a bond especially with Riley’s mom with a longing and obsession to have this life.
Presently, her husband, Riley and her former lover, Allston have been released from a Tennessee prison and she knows they will come after her. She has not been in touch with either of them since the arrest for a robbery—Grace was the mastermind behind the heist, before taking off for Europe with a stolen painting. Now in Paris (with a new identify, Julie) she works as a restorer of antiques, but what really makes her happy? What is she really seeking?
The book takes readers on a journey of a teen who goes from one personality to another, an exploration of sorts with flashbacks with Grace. A love triangle - Both guys in her life have done jail time for an antiques theft she planned; now she is sure they are hunting her. Grace of course has no ties from anyone in her former life – will they find her?
Even though the novel had a good set up, somewhere along the way, it lost momentum for me as a true psycho-thriller, as could have been more twisted, but there again, I did not care for Gone Girl; however, do not think the two compare. I did not feel a real connection with the characters; however agree with some of the other reviewers, enjoyed the story of Grace more so than Julie. However, some really good writing--so struggling with the rating as was not in love with the entire story.
UNBECOMING is a realistic view of trying to reinvent oneself, attempting to overcome a past; and when trying to do so, gets caught up in greed and loses themselves, their true self. Ultimately, they feel inappropriate or acceptable. Yes, was a little surprised at the ending being all wrapped up neatly.
However, would recommend reading as each person of course has a different perspective and takeaway—look forward to reading more from this author.
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