Published by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. on 09-03-2013
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers
What if your best friend's child disappears? And it was all your fault.
This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto, overwhelmed working mother of three, one freezing December in the English Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into the stuff of nightmares. Because, not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing, and not only is it all Lisa's fault, but she's the second teenage girl to disappear within this small tightknit community over two weeks. The first girl turned up stripped bare, dumped on a busy high street, after suffering from a terrifying ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake and after being publicly blamed by Lucinda's family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda's disappearance, Lisa learns that the small, posh, quiet town she lives in isn't what she thought it was, and her friends may not be who they appear, either.
I picked up Just What Kind of Mother Are You? as part of Dewey’s 24 hour readathon, about 4 hours before the end. I hoped the mystery would help me squeeze one last book in before the end of the readathon, and it certainly did that!
Lisa Kallisto is an overworked, perpetually busy mum. She forgets to buy the ingredients her daughter needs for food tech, is constantly juggling several things at once, and never has enough money for the animal shelter that she works at. Her go to phrase is “Leave it with me, I’ll sort it”, even when she has no idea just how she’ll go about it. She lives happily (if busily) with her taxi driving husband and their two kids.
Lisa’s best friend, Kate, is one of ‘those’ mothers. The cake baking, never forgets anything, always smiling and put together mothers. Despite their friendship, Lisa can’t help feeling a little jealous of Kate, and her perfect seeming life. Through a series of miscommunications, Kate is left thinking that her daughter Lucinda is staying at Lisa’s for a night – but she’s not. When she goes missing, Lisa blames herself – and so does everyone else. Wracked with guilt and fear, Lisa watches hopelessly as the police try to find Lucinda.
Lisa’s first person chapters are easy to get engrossed in, because let’s be honest, we all have days when we’re overwhelmed, when we forget things, where we look at someone else’s life and think it seems so easy. Lisa’s not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination – she makes mistakes, she sometimes doesn’t appreciate how amazing her own family life is and she struggles with feeling worthy. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, she’s very easy to relate to. There are moments where you’ll dislike her, and moments when you can’t help but feel so strongly for her because she’s a very three-dimensional character.
DC Joanne Aspinall is a steady, hard-working woman, trying to piece together the case of Lucinda, and the other missing girls. She’s very likable, and although her chapters were perhaps slightly less emotional than Lisa’s, I think the story needed those breaks in order not to leave the reader just feeling burnt out.
It’s hard to comment on any of the other characters without giving away spoilers, as at points throughout the book, you may find yourself looking at EVERYONE!
Just What Kind of Mother are You? was truly gripping and engrossing, heavily emotional and with a twist filled-end. Unfortunately, while the ending was definitely a twist, I wasn’t ultimately satisfied with it. There are a lot of secrets kept throughout the town, which in itself I could have lived with, but there were certain secrets that I felt would have been impossible to keep quiet and so the ending felt less plausible the more I thought about it. (I know that’s very vague, it’s impossible to say more without giving any spoilers away!).
Buy it? This is probably a library borrow for me.
In a nutshell: A hugely gripping, tense and emotional mystery.