A young woman makes a great deal of effort to distance herself from her past only to have it reawakened by a podcast.
After her father was murdered 13 years ago, her mother ran off to join a cult, and her twin sister betrayed her, Josie wandered aimlessly around the world, working odd jobs and avoiding serious entanglements. Then she met Caleb, and they began to build a real life, settling into jobs and friends and an apartment in New York—but she didn't tell him about her past or even her real name. Her sense of peace is shattered when she learns that Poppy Parnell, formerly the force behind a true-crime blog, has released a podcast in which she questions the guilt of the boy convicted of killing Josie’s father. As more episodes of the podcast drop, Josie’s mother commits suicide; when she's summoned home to Chicago by her aunt and cousin for the funeral, she learns that her twin sister, Lanie, is now married to her own former boyfriend and lives a comfortable, Stepford-like existence. Forced to confront the past for the first time in more than a decade, Josie also must face the fact that she may not know the truth about what happened to her father. The most relevant and interesting aspect of this novel is its exploration of the power of the podcast. Debut novelist Barber acknowledges that she was inspired by Serial, and her novel asks the reader to reflect on his or her own complicity when the people involved in a real-life crime story are dragged back into the limelight years later by that kind of journalism, and the impact it can have on their lives. Beyond this, however, Barber’s mystery is somewhat lackluster, and the characters lack true depth.
An interesting effort to critique society in this age of unfettered access to other people's stories.