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  • Mandy McHugh

Call Me Elizabeth Lark, Melissa Colasanti: A Review

4.5 Stars I've been excited to read this one for quite a while, and I was thrilled to be approved for an ARC available on NetGalley.

Twenty years ago, Charlotte went missing. Presumed dead, Myra and Herb are shocked when a woman who could be their daughter shows up at their remote seaside inn. Elizabeth is on the run with her son Theo, and while she doesn't want to take advantage of the situation, she knows that going back to her abusive husband isn't an option. But the stakes prove higher than any of them could have imagined when a series of terrifying events threatens to force the truth into light. But which truth is going to be revealed? First, I will say I really enjoyed this book. Colasanti's writing is visual and crisp which really brought the setting to life. As someone who's never been on the west coast before, I really got a sense of the small town and its community dynamics. I think most readers will like the structure of the novel. The alternating POVs worked really well, and while some of the flashbacks felt a little longwinded or information heavy, we get three strong independent voices. Instead of competing for attention, Myra, Gwen, and Elizabeth are given equal ground to tell their stories and voice their emotions. Not only does this add layer upon layer to the mystery, it also allows us to cast doubt onto other characters who might've previously been eliminated from the spotlight. While this wouldn't be what I'd call a high-octane thriller, there is no shortage of action. High stakes suspense seems more fitting, as Colasanti does a wonderful job drawing out the tension and reinforcing the point that danger is one misstep away. What really shone through, however, was the extremely relevant commentary on domestic abuse, mental illness, and grief. Sometimes in a survivor narrative, abuse is glorified, used as a tool to push the story by evoking an emotional response. Brutal details are relayed in detail, and it becomes exhibitionist. That couldn't be further from the truth with this book. Elizabeth suffers at the hands of her husband, yes, but we do not relive every horrible moment for the sake of entertainment or scandal. This is not a revenge narrative. We see her struggle with guilt, fear, validation, and love. Nothing is black and white, and much like how grief and mental illness are handled, we get a realistic view of the hurdles people must overcome in this endeavor. Overall, Call Me Elizabeth Lark is a taut, engrossing suspense that will tug at your heartstrings in the best possible way. I'd recommend for fans of Moriarty, women's fiction with a solid mystery, or anyone looking to get lost in a complex family history of secrets and regret. Thank you to Crooked Lane and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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