Watching You Without Me, by Lynn Coady

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When I first saw this description: “a creepy and wholly compelling novel about the complex relationship between mothers and daughters and sisters,” I knew I had to have it! I had read Coady’s The Antagonist and enjoyed it, so I was anticipating good things here. And it was good. It was. I did completely enjoy the parts exploring grief and guilt and the pressure Karen felt she was under. So much pressure, that she was led astray by a psychopath that everyone else around her recognized, and even though a woman with her education still could not see it through the guilt and grief to recognize it for herself.

But, I need to frame this so that it is seen in the context for how/why it was read at this time. This was read for our in-person book club. It was chosen/voted for over the other books suggested that evening. So here we were once again going for another suspense/thriller novel. And I know I’ve prattled on before, probably too many times, especially this year, that I’m done with books in this genre right now. I’m full up and okay, if I’m going to be cranky about it – I’m fed up. Our book club needs to get out of this rut.

This book was very enjoyable, yes, I didn’t mind spending my time reading it and that was because I really did like Kelli (most of all), Karen and how they were navigating their new life together following their mother’s death. It’s just that since we’ve been reading nothing but books from this genre it was often too similar to the already too many books we’ve been reading like it. We need to turn that page. Truly.

I do not want you to take away that I’m being negative about this book – the members of the club that have already read it really loved it – we even had one member who hasn’t been reading lately say they were glued to the pages. It is a good book, it will prompt plenty of discussion because of the caretaking aspect, the burnout, the ability to lose yourself under the veil of guilt and grief and feeling so overwhelmed — this is something that has been happening or happened for many of our members – so it will be an excellent conversation burner for sure. It’s just that I read it through the lens of our book club choices, and it was too similar to ones we’ve already read, and we just need so very much to choose from a different pot of books for our next meeting. (I know, I know, I continue to say this. We do need an intervention! I’m not saying I’m not at fault here, I was the one to bring this book as a suggestion…so perhaps the next meeting we hide all from this genre, post they are not allowed for the rest of the year and well into 2020. ;-) )