Book Review: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Last Thing He Told Me  by Laura Dave Genre:  Mystery, family drama Synopsis:   Before Owen Michaels' disappears, he smuggles a...

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Genre: Mystery, family drama

Before Owen Michaels' disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of parent

Overall rating:  ★★☆☆☆

I’ve read several Laura Dave books in the past, but they’ve always fallen more into the rom-dram genre. I was surprised when I started seeing The Last Thing He Told Me pop up everywhere because I was a little shocked that the same person that wrote Hello, Sunshine and Eight Hundred Grapes would venture into thriller territory - it just felt so unexpected. And because the thriller category seemed unexpected, the way the book played out for me was sort of expected.

First and foremost, I absolutely wouldn’t refer to this as a thriller. It’s suspense, sure, but also very much domestic drama. Like, I wanted to connect the pieces and figure out the story, but it certainly wasn’t thrilling.

But I also found myself immensely annoyed with weird intricacies of the book. Earlier in the book, there were often weird phrases where the MC was repeating her sentences very awkwardly. I noticed it specifically in some chapters with the MC's friend Jules, whose name was used much too often in such a small space of time.

But there were also things that bothered me immensely. As a professional working in higher education, nothing bothers me more in fictional academic settings than the complete disregard for FERPA regulations. This basically means that students have complete control over their academic records and unless they explicitly grant permission for others to see their records, their information cannot be shared, not even with family members. So grades, identifying specifics from the record, etc. There are some things that are considered “directory information” that are open record, but the majority of a student’s info MUST remain confidential, and this book completely disregarded that. It’s so frustrating, and greatly impacted my feelings for the book.

"Maybe we are all fools, one way or another, when it comes to seeing the totality of the people who love us—the people we try to love."

I did just also find that the connection of dots that Hannah often found seemed outlandish at points. There were actual pieces of the “puzzle” that never really added up and the way in which Hannah figured those things out didn’t make a ton of sense. It was a book that had potential, but it definitely felt like a debut suspense novel.

I did find the main relationship to be really interesting though - seeing the development between Hannah and Bailey was hands down the best part of the entire book. I also really liked the end of the book. I won’t say I enjoyed it, but it felt satisfying, and that’s the best to hope for with any book, in my opinion anyways.

This was just a weird one. I didn’t buy into it like everyone else seemed to have done, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it either. It just was kind of odd and flat.

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