Title: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Content warnings: sexual assault, attempted rape, violence, harassment
Blurb (Goodreads): In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.
Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?
4 out of 5 topazes
I’ll be honest: I don’t really care about the amnesia trope. I neither hate it nor love it; it’s just there, and if the author does it well, then I’m set. Thankfully, Jewell does it well in that it makes sense. The fugue state happens when the afflicted undergoes unspeakable trauma, and Gray undergoes such trauma.
When I think about what Gray has gone through, I get so mad. And so sad that I want to cry. Gray is an absolute sweetheart, and he is the embodiment of a kind and wonderful – the best – brother. Through him, we understand the importance of family and especially how “boring” may be perfect in its simplicity. No child should have to go through what he did. I hate that despite his best efforts, too, he wasn’t able to save the day – leaving us to believe that sometimes, thrillers don’t always end in a perfect bowtie, and, well, people can be shitty, and life can be shitty.
Speaking of shitty people, Mark is an evil and sleazy motherfucker. Excuse my language. But also not because that’s what he is. I’m not going to go into detail because of spoilers, but I did not believe his good act one bit. I wanted to – I really wanted to because he couldn’t possible be that horrible, but no, he is – subverting my expectations about him as well as the plotline itself. His comeuppance FINALLY does come, thank god, he should have turned into a bloody pulp first, but it’s fine. I’m fine.
There’s a part of me that wishes that Jewell spent a little bit more time on Mark’s backstory just so we could understand more about how he became the way he is. But then again, I don’t want to sympathize for a bastard like him.
Per Jewell style, the book is split up in two different timelines. I don’t always love this, but with Jewell, everything just works, and I found myself equally absorbed in each timeline. With these timelines, too, Jewell perfectly paces the events, and like what Lily’s mother says, this book is an onion in and of itself.
The one thing I’m neutral about in I Found You is the relationship between Alice and Frank. I get that she’s lonely and single and depressed, but I just didn’t get the chemistry as much as I wanted to. The relationship between Lily and Carl is fascinating, at least, and although Lily gets a teensy bit annoying for me, I understand why. Ultimately, I’m so, so glad she does what she does. As for Kitty, I understand her, too, but I also mostly hate her.
I Found You is a heartbreaking thriller and worthy of a read. It’s not the most original of plotlines or the most twisty – I basically got who was who from the quarter mark – but it does pull the rug underneath you from time to time. Lisa Jewell crafts unique characters who make you feel a variety of things and who will be sure to last you for a long while.
Read: 1/09/21 – 1/10/21