Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: 4/28/2014
My Rating: 4 Stars
When Jane Ryan discovers she's pregnant with twin girls, she faces a heart wrenching decision. On her own and unable to afford to care for both babies, she sees no choice but to keep one and give up the other for adoption. But fourteen years later, Jane's decision comes full circle.
"Family is everything." It's one of the first things Isabel, the twin Jane gave up, says when they unexpectedly meet. Without warning, she and her adoptive mother have moved to the town where Jane and her daughter, Harper, live.
But are they really family? In the throes of a willful adolescence, Harper is as sullen as Isabel is eager to please. Still, the sisters appear to bond quickly--until unsettling things begin to happen. Disturbing pranks, questionable accidents, strange ailments. Are the girls allies, or enemies? Is Harper acting out, or is Isabel not all she seems? Soon, Jane is convinced there is something darker at work than sibling rivalry. But who is to blame, and is this only the beginning?
In a novel that is both suspenseful and deeply emotional, Rosalind Noonan explores the complex challenges of motherhood, and of truly knowing what lies in another's heart--even those we love best.
A special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
TAKE ANOTHER LOOK by Rosalind Noonan is an emotional, chilling, and suspenseful mystery thriller; an exploration of highly charged contemporary topics— complexities of motherhood, family, genetics, bullying, sibling rivalry, domestic abuse, psychological conflicts, and evil.
In Seattle, Jane Ryan has to stick to the plan, as she envisions herself and her life beyond the hospital. Some choices could be easily fixed, but not this. She has given birth to twins; however, she can only keep one. Which baby? The one crying all the time or the pleasant one? One would be a challenge, but two? She would love to keep both, so two sisters could grow up together.
She had wanted to name the babies after literary icons, Harper Lee and Louisa May Alcott, thinking possibly it would raise their IQ. With no choice, she chose to give away one for adoption, and move south to Portland, Oregon and hopefully the girls would never cross paths. The adoptive mother would not be given Jane’s information as a closed adoption. Jane had moved over the years to different states and changed her name. At the beginning of the novel readers are unaware why she is running.
The book flashes forward to fourteen years later. Harper, the daughter is in high school at Mirror Lake and Jane a teacher at the same school. All goes well until her worst nightmare catches up with her (actually several). She had pretended that she was in the witness protection program and tried to make a new start. Frank, the father of her twins.
Frank was a cop. Above the law. He was persuasive and charming. After all, he wanted her to have an abortion. The trauma of Frank Dixon had nearly destroyed her. If Frank was hunting her down, she had to keep running. When he had told her he came from a family of crazies, she had thought he was joking, but since she has learned different.
For a decade she had focused on making a life for herself and her daughter, and most people believed Harper’s father was dead. Frank is locked up after all, so he is no longer a threat. Seven years for sexual assault. He used his authority as a cop and raped women. After she escaped he repeated his behavior over and over again. He will be out soon.
Now after all these years, the police want her to testify against him in order to keep him in prison. They need to prove his entire family is associated with heinous crimes. She has spent half of her life, trying to run from him, and she wants him locked up for good. He had been a model boyfriend until moved into together and he had seized control gradually. After a year, she found out she was pregnant. After he had made the appointment for the abortion, she left. Now she begins to wonder if genetics play a part in antisocial behavior. Is psychopathy inherited? A result of nature or nurture?
When Harper winds up in trouble she begins asking about her father, she starts liking boys, Jane is worried as Harper is pushing the limits, bullying and has a temper. She finds herself watching Harper for signs of her father’s meanness. This makes her begin to think about Louisa. She rarely allows herself to dwell on the child she gave away—Was Louisa more like Jane – academic, serious-minded, and obedient, perhaps?
To further complicate matters, there is a new girl, Isabel at their school and she looks like Harper. Harper dislikes her saying she escaped from Malibu Barbies beach house all frilly and pink. However, the girl Harper hates is Olivia – her rival, her nemesis.
Are some children born with a propensity for evil? Jane just hoped her environment has an impact over genetics. However, each day she is seeing Harper’s sense of entitlement and greed. She had seen those demons many times in Frank’s eyes. Had she raised Harper all these years without instilling important concepts like honest and integrity? Now there is a new girl at school and she looks like Harper? Could this be Harper’s twin?
So many secrets, and what if this is her daughter and it comes out? She could lose her job, her boyfriend, and possibly her other daughter—it would be a scandal.
Now Isabel's adoptive dad has died and her mom is sick, so through a PI, they track Jane down. Isabel (Louise) is the good one, an editor- in- chief of the school newspaper, the good student with a 4.0 grade point average. Jane is distraught, this cannot be happening! When it all comes out, the girls make friends for a short time, and then one starts scrambling for more attention, with more evil.
However, when Jane has to take care of Isabel (Louise) while her mother Chrissy, is very sick, some other evidence comes to light, proposing the question— which is really the evil twin? Louise Isabel, Harper Lee, or both?
Perhaps Frank’s evil genes had been passed down, to not one daughter but two. Which one can she trust? Manipulating like Frank. How can she ever forgive herself? Before it ends there are two dead and three on the hit list. The epilogue is chilling, so hope there will be a second book . . .
Boy, oh boy . . surprises around every corner with twists and turns. It has taken me a while to write my review, as did not want to say too much; however, sometimes you have to “give a little more” in order to match the correct reader. Listen guys and gals, this is not a simple family drama and women’s fiction – the author really has written a suspense mystery and psycho-thriller with some excellent insights into behaviors. An intense read and a good storyteller; quite impressed since this was my first book by the author. I liked the novel better after reading the book, versus what I had envisioned after reading the initial summary.
In addition, there is the domestic violence, as mentioned in the book, one third of the women killed in the US are murdered by a domestic partner. My only comment - the author could have turned it up a notch and probably be classified as a psycho-thriller, as a good set up- maybe a sequel with backstory of Jane/Frank, more evil, and bring back Frank.
TAKE ANOTHER LOOK, in the theme of, a cross-over between T. Greenwood, Jodi Picoult, Jane Green, Chevy Stevens, Lisa Unger, and Heather Gudenkauf. Those readers enjoying young adult, evil, mystery, suspense and light psycho-thrillers will be glued to the pages. Loved the front cover with the evil look. Look forward to reading more!