Why don’t you leave? Clare Mackintosh answers this question in graphic detail in her debut international bestseller I Let You Go. She also provides brilliant insights into the twisted minds and malignant narcissism of perpetrators of violence against women. It is a psychological thriller that I could not put down until I read all 369 pages yesterday. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and gasp.
I Let You Go is set in the author’s hometown of Bristol, England. She served as a police officer in Oxford where joyriders killed a boy in a still-unsolved hit and run. She also gave birth to twins Josh and Alex in 2006. Sadly, Alex died shortly after birth from meningitis. Several months later, she unexpectedly became pregnant with a second set of twins, Evie and Georgie.
The unsolved hit and run and Alex’s death became the center of I Let You Go which has a plot twist in the middle of the book I didn’t see coming because I didn’t carefully process the author’s note at the end of the book:
When my own son died. . .I experienced firsthand how emotion can cloud one’s judgment and affect behavior. Grief and guilt are powerful feelings, and I began to wonder how they might affect two women involved in very different ways in the same incident. [emphasis added]
Jenna Gray and Ray and Kate, the police officers investigating the hit-and-run, are the central characters of the first half of the book. Is the tension between Ray and Kate sexual harassment or consensual? Jenna has horrendous PTSD and decamps to the Welsh coast. Why? I’m not gonna tell.
Jenna had been a sculptor in Bristol, but a mysterious injury to her hand ends her career. Her Welsh neighbor Bethan encourages her to market the photos she takes on the beach which becomes her safe haven.
Critics have opined the book is akin to The Girl on the Train. I disagree. It captures the experience of domestic violence as brilliantly as Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen. I accurately intuited some of the plot twists, but I still gasped when they unfolded.
While I recommend the book highly, it may not be a wise choice for some survivors ~ especially protective mothers ~ who have Complex-PTSD. The PTSD episodes and traumatic events Jenna experiences are quite graphic.