Top critical review
Slightly spoilerish (no specifics)
Reviewed in the United States on October 17, 2019
After eleven years missing, Kate returns home with a newborn baby. Her husband Scott, now married to Meredith, wants the old Kate back. Abbi, only five when her mom disappeared, just wants to know her mother. The mystery of Kate’s missing eleven years haunts everyone.
I didn’t enjoy WHEN SHE RETURNED as much as most of Lucinda Berry’s novels. Of the three narrators, Abbi was the only one I enjoyed. Vulnerable, yet strong, the teen loved and supported her mother unconditionally. I empathized with Meredith, but not her tactics. She was in such a difficult position, but waffling between martyr and jealous suspicion didn’t work for me. Kate’s chapters show how she ended up where she was and why she stayed. I understand the psychology of Stockholm Syndrome, cults and brainwashing, but couldn’t connect with her. If she has received more comprehensive psychological counseling aimed at her healing rather then the police/FBI investigation the outcome might have been better.
I did not enjoy Kate’s Then chapters and the descriptions of abuse in the cult and skimmed over some of that. While necessary to understanding the circumstances and not gratuitous, I’m familiar enough with what goes on that I didn’t need the specifics.
I hated the ending of the book, not just plot-wise, but the abruptness. When I’m expecting more and turn the page to find the story is over, the book feels incomplete.
WHEN SHE RETURNED isn’t a bad book. I like Berry’s word building, she’s quite readable. The story just didn’t work for me.