A 17-year-old girl struggles to piece together the truth about a violent incident she can barely recall.
When Kate shows up in rural New Zealand with a man who tells people he's her uncle Jim, she has only the vaguest notion of the danger she's in. Jim has brought her from Melbourne to a seaside town to avoid the police and the social uproar from something she's supposedly done. With a new look and a new name—Jim calls her Evie—Kate tries to recall the evening that changed her life. Jim asks her questions about what she can remember, but he won’t allow her to go online, he locks her in her room at night, and he seems to have alerted all the locals that she's mentally unbalanced and not to be trusted. But as Jim grows more paranoid, and Kate more desperate to get back home to Melbourne and face the truth, she must decide whether or not Jim is trying to protect her or drive her to the brink. This debut novel by Pomare sets him up as a writer to watch. There are the kind of plot wobbles that often attend first novels—it may especially frustrate some readers that Pomare uses the cover of Kate’s trauma-induced amnesia to withhold vital information that has nothing to do with Kate’s memory and everything to do with the author wanting to force a twist. But Pomare’s writing is so crisp and his characterizations so spot-on that these tricks are easy to forgive. Readers looking for a page-turner will be happy, but so, too, will those looking for a work with deeper resonances, in this case about gaslighting and the ruthless world of teenagers.
Read this one with the lights on, and keep Pomare on your radar.