Friday, 19 August 2016

Book Review: Burnt Paper Sky/What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

Read: 18-29 August   Verdict: 5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Rachel’s 8-year-old son Ben is missing. One moment he was with her, the next he ran around the corner and vanished. Now Rachel is trying to hold it together while the police desperately try to find him before it’s too late. This has also been published under the title What She Knew.

This book was absolutely excellent and I just couldn’t put it down! I read the majority of it in more or less one sitting. I was immediately sucked into the story - the pain and anguish pouring out of the words from Rachel’s POV - was agonising yet addictive to read. I felt her pain as a mother who didn’t know where her son was was done really well - the range of emotions, the desperation, the media’s vilification of her for her reactions. All done great.

Burnt Paper Sky is highly descriptive and at first I thought it might be too much but then after a couple of chapters it began working really well. I feel like i got a good feel of Rachel and the other POV in the book - the detective James ‘Jim’ Clemo. Clemo’s chapters really wrapped up the police investigation for me, seeing how they were pursuing leads and filling in what Rachel couldn’t tell the readers. His back and forth storyline of how the case affected him was done very well and i think highlighted an important point that different cases can affect different police officers and it’s not just the parents or family who suffered from PTSD, depression or anxiety after such an incident (I think Clemo’s chapters with a therapist also highlight how important it is to talk about your feelings and thoughts as well.)

There was a great point in this book as well in how the media treated Rachel as a single mother who had lost her son. Within a day the media and public had turned on her because she didn’t act like the meek, crying woman they wanted her to be. She showed anger and appeared a bit unstable (all understandable really given the situation) and suddenly she was acting oddly while the crying father who had walked away from his wife and son for another woman was shown in a good light. I think it highlighted the gap in how media sometimes treats women versus men very well. And it also highlighted how social media today and comments under articles affect people in the middle of the story and how hard it is to get away from them.

I was a bit surprised by the outcome but not too surprised as it’s the type of story that really makes you suspect everyone! I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Fantastic read.

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