A friendship between two very different women is threatened when long-buried secrets rise to the surface.
Lonely and overweight stay-at-home mother Frances Metcalfe feels like an outsider among the stylish moms at Seattle’s exclusive Forrester Academy. It doesn’t help that her son, Marcus, whom she fiercely loves in spite of his challenges, has ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder, which causes him to act out in alarming ways. She knows that her handsome husband, Jason, loves her, but she's painfully aware of the stares she gets that seem to ask how someone like him could be with someone like her. When the beautiful, elegant Kate Randolph befriends Frances, she’s thrilled, and Kate’s son, Charles, proves to be a calming influence on Marcus. Sleepovers for the kids and get-togethers with Kate and her husband, Robert, become the norm, and Kate brings out an adventurous side of Frances that she thought was lost underneath the stress of caring for Marcus. However, Kate’s 14-year-old daughter Daisy’s behavior is becoming increasingly self-destructive, calling attention to a darkness that lies just beneath the intoxicating veneer of Kate and Frances’ friendship. And there is real darkness here: One of these women is really Amber Kunik, who was involved in the sensationalized murder of 15-year-old Courtney Carey in 1996, supposedly while under the control of an abusive boyfriend—but is it Frances or Kate? Harding (The Party, 2017, etc.) expertly builds subtle menace and does her best to keep readers guessing as to which woman is Amber, whose heinous crimes are revealed through snippets of her chilling courtroom testimony. When Amber’s identity is finally revealed, the other woman must decide whether forgiveness is possible while confronting her own dark secret. A bit of gallows humor, such as when Frances fantasizes outrageous ways that she could kill a mom who’s particularly rude to her, leavens the dark subject matter.
Creepy and compelling.