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  • Mandy McHugh

We Are All the Same in the Dark, Julia Heaberlin: A Review

This is the first Heaberlin title I've read, and I am delighted to say it won't be the last. From the stunning cover to the sharp title, this held my attention to the very last page.

Odette is a tough-as-nails small-town cop who holds the weight of an unsolved disappearance on her shoulders. Everyone knows Trumanelle is probably dead, but it's been five years and Odette is determined to find the truth about what happened that night that Trumanelle and her father went missing--the night Odette lost her leg in a car accident.. When a young girl missing an eye is found by Wyatt, Trumanelle's brother, Odette takes her under her wing while navigating her own personal issues. One fateful night seals their fates, gripped by a small town that won't let them go. It's difficult to talk about how much I loved this book without spoilers, but I will do my best. Heaberlin's writing jumps off the page. Immersive in its imagery and beautiful prose, We Are All the Same in the Dark is a study of grief, loss, and redemption. Odette's character is the epitome of strong, a gritty, realistic portrayal of a person struggling with a disability. Recovery is not linear, and some of the most poignant moments come when we see the side of her she doesn't want anyone else to see: pulled over in a rest stop, overcome by the maddening itch of a phantom limb. The daily maintenance and how her amputation affects everything from the way she trained to her fear of slipping on a wet surface. Angel, too, is a fantastic character who takes her missing eye in stride, holding on to her story with ferocity and grace. Their lives, however briefly entwined, are connected in a grander sense, and Heaberlin's narrative structure layers emotional complexity with shocking revelation. In short, this book is the definition of un-put-downable. From the tone (which reminded me of Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird) the small-town dynamic of secrets and exclusion and how they play into the overarching power structures, to the quiet strength of not only women, but women with disabilities, We Are All the Same in the Dark doesn't shy away from brutal realism. Abuse, harsh realities police face on a daily basis, the lost girls who choose to be nameless roaming the highway because the alternative is too horrible to accept, this is the type of book that will stick to your bones and root in your heart. Thank you to Ballantine and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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