(Image from Barnes & Noble)
When Estelle Paradise awakens in a hospital room, the 27-year-old is totally confused. The doctor says she's been in a car accident, but Estelle has no memory of a crash. In fact, she can't remember anything. Nothing except her 7-month-old daughter, Mia. As she pushes past the amnesia that clouds her head, Estelle learns that Mia has been missing for several days. According to Estelle's own account, the infant disappeared from her crib—along with her diapers, clothing, toys, and every other trace of her—while Estelle was napping. The story sounds ridiculous even to Estelle. But it's the truth. She just has to convince the police, her angry husband, and, most of all, herself. Estelle knows she's been a little off since giving birth to Mia, but she's not crazy. She's not.
The question remains: Where is Mia? Was she taken by some desperate, baby-crazy stranger? Did her father do something to her? Estelle couldn't have harmed the baby, could she? Even though Mia drove her half-crazy with her colicky screaming? Do clues to the child's whereabouts lie buried somewhere in Estelle's fractured memory? Estelle must find the answers before she's convicted of a crime she didn't commit. Or did she?
I love mind-twisting psychological thrillers that keep me wondering what's real and what's not. The not knowing guarantees I'll turn the pages until I find out. With its very intriguing premise, as well as comparisons to Gone Girl, Remember Mia—a debut novel by Alexandra Burt—seemed to be just this kind of novel. And it could have been. It had the potential, for sure. What kept it from hitting the spot for me? First off, the writing and plotting seemed rocky and disjointed. A more subtle, streamlined story would have been nice. Then, there were the flat, cliché characters. Despite the battle with post-partum depression/exhaustion which should have made her sympathetic, Estelle continually came off as cold and self-absorbed. I don't need a warm, fuzzy narrator in order to really feel a story, but I do need to feel some connection with the main character. Which didn't happen here. Lastly, I felt like Remember Mia needed a subplot, or something to give it more depth and richness. As is, the book missed the mark somewhat. Although there were some pulse-pounding moments, overall, this thriller fails to thrill. Or stand out. Too bad, because I'm still haunted by its incredibly promising premise.
(Readalikes: Similar to other books where the heroine wakes up with amnesia and has to piece together what has happened to her. The First Wife by Erica Spindler comes to mind, as does Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson.)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for strong language and violence
To the FTC, with love: Another library