This is a seriously impressive novel. It’s probably the most compelling book I’ve read since The Girl on the Train last summer. I read it in roughly two sittings, and had I had all the time in the world, could’ve swallowed in a day.
The novel is centred on Jenna Gray, whose life changes in an instant on one awful day. Desperate to escape the memories, she flees to a remote seaside village in Wales, where she can hope to move on. Unfortunately for Jenna, her past won’t let her escape that easily.
The first half of the novel is told from two perspectives: Jenna’s, and the police team working on the accident. I like novels with a ‘dual’ storyline, because it keeps the book from becoming too stale and offers a change of scenery every other chapter, which keeps you interested in the ‘other’ storyline. The second half of the novel starts to uncover Jenna’s past, which is equally gripping.
Clare Mackintosh does an excellent job of keeping the reader interested; in fact, me and my mum both agreed that we thought something entirely different was happening in the first half of the novel than what was actually going on, which shows that Mackintosh has really put thought and effort into her work. Her characters are well developed, with you as interested in background character Tom as you are in Jenna. There are also a number of side-plots alongside Jenna’s main story, which keeps the momentum of the novel going, and again, stops the focus from being too intense.
There was twist after twist after twist in the novel – when I thought I’d hit the first twist, there were still a number left to come, which was part of the reason why it was unputdownable. I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know, firstly, where that twist had come from, and secondly, whether my next predictions were correct.
Mackintosh does a really excellent job of writing a narrative that is, frankly, in some parts disturbing and uncomfortable. Her writing is so skilful that she can have you rooting for a character one minute, hating them the next, and then rooting for them again. And all the while, you’re just desperate to know what happens next.
My only slight grumble was that for someone who didn’t want to be found, I couldn’t understand why Jenna didn’t change her name completely. It made her traceable, which yes, I understand was necessary for the story, but I think someone in Jenna’s situation would want to erase every trace of her past.
It’s an outstanding debut and I give every congratulations to Mackintosh for her writing. I was lucky enough to pick up a sample of I See You at London Book Fair, so I’m looking forward to checking that out.
I Let You Go is published by Sphere.