Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: January 16th, 2018
Pages: 384

Genre: Fiction / Suspense / Mystery


…But what if that’s the only thing you can remember?

Komméno Island, Greece: I don't know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

What Did I Think About the Story?

I Know My Name is mainly told through two shifting storylines - that of a woman who washes up on the shore of an uninhabited island (save four people supposedly staying on the island as a writers retreat) with a bad head injury and no memory of who she is, and that of an overworked husband left to try and figure out where his wife, Eloise, is after he gets the call that she is gone, leaving their two children home alone and seeming to have left everything behind. From the very beginning it wasn't hard to see how the two stories would most likely be related but became more about figuring out the why and how. Interspersed within the two storylines are short chapters detailing the horrific and abusive childhood that Eloise had with her mother and these snippets helped fill in some of the backstory of a woman who wasn't as perfect as she and her family let on.

I have to admit that this story dragged somewhat for me. While I did find much to enjoy within each separate storyline it felt like it took forever for the story to actually progress, especially on the island. While our mystery woman was trying to remember anything about who she was and how she ended up on the island the other four people kept acting strangely and asking her constantly if she remembered anything and I got to the point where I wanted something - anything - else to happen. It did eventually move on as the two storylines began to converge, but by that point I had already figured out what was happening and was just trying to figure out how the author was going to plausibly bring everything fully together. And then, once everything was revealed, I felt like it was wrapped up too quickly to satisfy the slow burn to get to that point. The pacing just felt off.

What I did very much enjoy was the family drama aspect of the story (as opposed to the mystery which wasn't overly hard to figure out). As Lochlan is desperately trying to figure out where his wife has gone and why, you see him realize that he doesn't know his wife very well and hasn't put much of an effort forward to help her. He's been so busy within his business bubble that he hasn't even noticed his wife's struggles finding herself within the roles of perfect mother and wife. He's been neglectful and, in turn, feels shame that he doesn't even know what his wife does all day long. It was great watching him come to grips with this and to see him change into a wholly different man. It was also quite heartbreaking learning of all the horrible things Eloise had to endure as a child - things Lochlan wasn't even aware of - as well as seeing how these things greatly effected the woman Eloise became.

All in all I would say that I Know My Name was an entertaining read even if not for the reasons I was expecting. It was different, which is always good, and I think the author did a great job of building the tension in both storylines as the reader and the characters work to put the pieces of this strange puzzle together. I'm interested to see what author C.J. Cooke tackles in the future.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think this is the perfect cover for this story. The sort of paneled/fractured nature of the cover makes me instantly think of the issues at the heart of the story, as does the shadowed nature of the woman. The blues also make me think of the ocean, which fits the setting of half of the story. Great cover!

My Rating: 3.0/5.0

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for a free copy of I Know My Name in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine alone. For more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase your own copy, see Goodreads HERE.

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