Book Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge: A book told from multiple character POVs I'd like to start off by saying that I a...

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge: A book told from multiple character POVs

I'd like to start off by saying that I absolutely loved Pinborough's debut, Behind Her Eyes. I know it pissed a lot of folks off with the turn it took, but it was that kind of book - shocking. And there was really no in between - most people really loved it or really hated it. I was on the side of love. So, I went into Cross Her Heart expecting a similar experience, and I did not receive it. However, I have heard a lot of folks say they really loved Cross Her Heart, and most of those were on the side of really hating Behind Her Eyes. Maybe that clears things up, or makes them more confusing? I'm ultimately trying to be transparent in my review and the expectations I had leading up to reading this book, which was another Book of the Month pick. Anyways, let's get going.

TW: Violence against children, domestic violence

Told from multiple perspectives, this novel follows Lisa, single mother of 16 year-old Ava, and Lisa's best friend Meredith. They all have secrets to hide. Lisa is overprotective of Ava, and becomes anxious at the slightest inconvenience. She begins to slowly unravel as clues from her haunted past begin popping back up. Meanwhile, Ava is chatting with an older man online and hiding it from everyone, including her friends. Meredith, who's always calm, collected, and put-together, has secrets of her own. And literally no one is talking to those who are closest to them.

I swear I was so annoyed this entire book. There are always these situations in books, movies, and tv shows where if people just called the cops in the first place, things would be okay (I'm looking at you, Pretty Little Liars). Granted, the story would probably end fairly abruptly.

There's no doubt Pinborough is a talented writer. Her writing will absolutely suck you in to the story and leave you wanting to know what's going to happen next. The way the story was organized reminded me a lot of Liane Moriarity - something's happened, but you have no idea what's going on and you're trying to figure it out the entire story. Unlike Moriarity's novel, though, I didn't feel connected to the characters. For the storyline to have such serious implications for the characters, I felt the character development was truly lacking. There's a lot of backstory for one of the characters, but it doesn't dive deep.

"Someone can do a terrible, unforgivable thing, and yet you forgive them if you love them. The heart is such a strange thing." - Sarah Pinborough, Cross Her Heart

The story gets very deep though, and it's sickening. I'm not sure how I picked up two books in a row involving violence against children, but it's been a rough start to my reading year. The story started out incredibly slow - it took me around 100 pages to finally get into and start reading with a little more urgency. I'll also say the characters are highly unlikeable, I trusted not one of them.

The twists were certainly twisty, though. Every single time I thought I had so cleverly figured something out, I was wrong. Pinborough did a fantastic job of leading my mind exactly where she wanted it to without me realizing that's what she was doing. The writing was very intentional and I felt psychologically drained while reading.

But the first big reveal is sickening, and I could have gone without it being the main point of the storyline. I hated the flashbacks for multiple reasons. I wouldn't read this book a second time.

Goodreads Rating: ★★★☆☆

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