In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.
Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.
As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.
Yep. Here we have it: this year’s third Award of Excellence! This is my third Kubica read. It will not be my last for freaking sure! While I loved The Good Girl and liked Pretty Baby, I super-loved this one because of the structure and difficult choices Kubica made. I think she took a risk with Alex, but man did it pay out!
Don’t You Cry is structured in two main narratives, and while in the beginning you may not be so sure if and what they have to do with each other, as the plot progresses things become hinted at, then clear, then heartbreaking for reasons I won’t spell out here. I’m not spoiling your read, ofc xD Via these two narratives we meet two main characters – Quinn and Alex, living in different environments – big city life Chicago versus small harbor town in Michigan.
I loved the contrast between lifestyles and environment, the small tribe in a big town versus close-knit community. The world of Don’t You Cry is built on contrasts, a theme that goes on throughout the novel: big city vs small town, then vs now, appearances vs reality, wanna-be girlfriend vs actual girlfriend, current flatmate vs potential (ideal?) flatmate, sibling vs sibling, Esther’s eyes, and so on. It was very exciting for me to read how different elements uncovered by either of the main characters weighed in on those delicate balances and the bigger picture.
Quinn was easy to like – the perfectly flawed, fun girl wanting to make it on her own, yet not entirely on her own. She was easy to empathize with, and despite not boasting a too-dramatic past, she gives Alex a run for his money in terms of which one is more likable – yet another vs, in the novel, maybe; see what I meant by it being built on contrasts, lol? -. But Alex, Alex is easy to love. You wanna take him under your wing, right the wrongs of his life. You wanna save him, from his family life, from his current situation, from himself, from the end of the novel. You wanna save him, and it’s gonna break your heart that won’t be able to. That he’s not able to.
In the end, my heart went out to both of them, for different reasons. Alex, with his sad past and terrible present, broke my heart. I cried. Not just once. When you’ll read this you’ll know what I mean. Sometimes I felt like Quinn was intruding on my time with Alex, with her shallower egotistical issues – and yet she dealt with issues many of us deal with, and made pretty decent decisions. I couldn’t not like her, lol. Okay, the whole Ben thing made me kinna dislike her a bit, I have to say. And Alex…oh, Alex. *sniffles*
The story has this really genius structure, like two threads that seem entirely separate yet as you follow them each, they entwine to tell the story of Esther and her family via Quinn and Alex, pretty much. There are layers upon layers to Don’t You Cry, and I loved the sophisticated structure and delivery of the story. And that Alex thing, man that takes metaphorical balls. No, I will not elaborate. Read it, lol! So much subtle twisted deliciousness.
It’s a first person, present tense narrative, form Quinn and Alex’s POV. I loved how their voices differed, and I love Kubica’s writing style, this light, diaphanous approach to dramatic moments that relays all the intensity without beating you over the head with it.
It’s already an auto-buy author name for me, but the blurb and cover are very attractive and would have made me wanna read Don’t You Cry even if I hadn’t read anything by Mary Kubica before.
I fully, wholeheartedly recommend Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica to anyone who loves sophisticated psychological thrillers about authentic main characters and gripping stories delivered in a fabulous way. Big, big like!