Her

Finished Her by Harriet Lane.

Summary (from Goodreads):

You don’t remember her–but she remembers you.

On the face of it, Emma and Nina have very little in common. Isolated and exhausted by early motherhood, Emma finds her confidence is fading fast. Nina–sophisticated, generous, effortlessly in control–seems to have all the answers.

It’s easy to see why Emma is drawn to Nina. But what does Nina see in her?

A seemingly innocent friendship slowly develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Nina eases her way into Emma’s life. Soon, it becomes clear that Nina wants something from the unwitting Emma–something that might just destroy her.”

I wanted very much to love this book.  I had heard really great things and as you know, any psychological thriller is excellent for me.  And then I started reading it.

For most of the book, we don’t know the source of the animosity Nina has for Emma.  We know it can’t be something major, because Emma has no idea who Nina is.  Clearly if there had been a major falling out at some point, they must have been close at one point, right? But then why wouldn’t Emma know Nina back?

The pace of the book is incredibly deliberate.  We go where Harriet Lane wants us to go, and she is determined that we take our time to get there.  The end, when it comes, is shocking and abrupt.  I would have liked a definitive ending, but that isn’t my main problem with the book.

I read one review that said that they didn’t think that Nina’s grudge was a big enough deal, and that makes sense.  But then I thought about my own life and some of the grudges I have held, and they aren’t always the major ones.  Sometimes they are the person who cut me off in traffic; the coworker who always—ALWAYS!—takes up two parking spaces, even though our lot is too small as it is; the neighbor who lets their kids run screaming through the hallways at 7 a.m., irritating my dog (and me, because if I wanted to be awake at 7 a.m., I would work normal hours).  I deal with these petty annoyances with eyerolls and gritted teeth, but it seems like the small annoyances are the hardest to deal with because they happen ALL. THE. TIME.

So Nina, I get it.

No, my biggest problem with the book is the fact that Nina chose to target Emma’s children more than Emma.  Although to be fair, she didn’t really do anything horrible to the children.  It wasn’t like she shoved the baby into traffic.

(Minor spoiler, but vague)

I’m not sure if the ending is Nina’s fault or not, but I think it isn’t.  I think it was an accident.

Ultimately, though, for a book about hatred, this book was very cold.

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