Where The Truth Lies
by Anna Bailey

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books, Simon and Schuster Canada, and Anna Bailey for a free electronic ARC of Where The Truth Lies in exchange for an honest review!

Where The Truth Lies by Anna Bailey releases on August 3, 2021.

You have NO idea how much I wanted to love this book.  The cover is absolutely stunning and completely drew me in, while the synopsis makes this book sound like the kind of chilling and atmospheric thriller that I tend to enjoy… but unfortunately it just did not work for me.

THE SYNOPSIS:

When a teenaged girl disappears from an insular small town, all of the community’s most devastating secrets come to light in this stunningly atmospheric and slow-burning suspense novel—perfect for fans of Megan Miranda and Celeste Ng.

The town of Whistling Ridge guards its secrets.

When seventeen-year-old Abigail goes missing, her best friend Emma, compelled by the guilt of leaving her alone at a party in the woods, sets out to discover the truth about what happened. The police initially believe Abi ran away, but Emma doesn’t believe that her friend would leave without her, and when officers find disturbing evidence in the nearby woods, the festering secrets and longstanding resentment of both Abigail’s family and the people of Whistling Ridge, Colorado begin to surface with devastating consequences.

Among those secrets: Abi’s older brother Noah’s passionate, dangerous love for the handsome Rat, a recently arrived Romanian immigrant who has recently made his home in the trailer park in town; her younger brother Jude’s feeling that he knows information he should tell the police, if only he could put it into words; Abi’s father’s mercurial, unpredictable rages and her mother’s silence. Then there is the rest of Whistling Ridge, where a charismatic preacher advocates for God’s love in language that mirrors violence, under the sway of the powerful businessman who rules the town, insular and wary of outsiders.

But Abi had secrets, too, and the closer Emma grows to unraveling the past, the farther she feels from her friend. And in a tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark—the truth of what really happened that night—to change their community forever.

MY THOUGHTS:

To put it simply, I think that there were way too many big ideas, touchy subjects, and extremely large character arcs for secondary characters that, when all thrown together, confused the main plot which was supposed to be about a missing teenager and her friends quest to find the truth behind her disappearance.

Essentially, Abigail, a seventeen-year-old girl, goes missing in the woods one night following a party.  Emma, Abigail’s best friend, seems to be the only one who cares about her disappearance and in her search to uncover the truth behind what happens, she also uncovers tons of small-town dark secrets.  However, at some point the story really seems to be less about what happens to Abigail, and more about all of the dark secrets and small minds of the townspeople.

Instead of focusing on the disappearance, the book hyper-focuses on:

  • Racism and racial violence
  • Homophobia and conversion therapy
  • Violence in the name of Christianity
  • Domestic violence and sexual abuse
  • Extremism child abuse and neglect
  • Child alcoholism and drug use (cocaine)

There was just way too much going on—for any novel—but especially for a book that’s under 300 pages.  When an author adds too many social justice issues it detracts from the story, causes potential plot holes (which, in this case, happened) and defeats the purpose of including them in the story in first place.

I would not recommend this one; it’s too all over the place and there were too many plot holes as a result.

Summary
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