Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: 'The Day I Died' by Lori Rader-Day


Anna Winger has spent thirteen years hiding from her former husband. She and her teenaged son, Josh, have lived in Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, and are now residents of Parks, Indiana, where Anna freelances as a handwriting expert for corporations, private individuals, and the police. Things start to go wrong when Josh becomes increasingly rebellious, impertinent, and unpredictable. Furthermore, Anna is under pressure to help solve two kidnapping cases, one involving an executive and the other, two-year old Aidan Ransey, who "had bottomless brown eyes and tousled hair like the fuzz of a baby bird." Some townspeople dismiss Anna's profession as "hocus-pocus," but she firmly believes that handwriting can reveal a great deal about a person's character.

Having fled a man she detests, Anna confronts her past when, after a heated argument, Josh runs away. In desperation, she returns to her former home to search for the boy and, once again, experiences the feelings of fear and helplessness that drove her to go on the run in the first place. "The Day I Died," by Lori Rader-Day, features a heroine whose narration reveals that, beneath her carefully constructed fa├žade, Anna is vulnerable, guilt-ridden, and frightened.

In "The Day I Died," the author explores the nature of small towns, where everyone knows everyone else's business. In addition, Rader-Day touches on the horrors of domestic violence; how secrets and lies drive a wedge between parents and children; and the importance of facing reality, no matter how unpleasant the prospect may be. Unfortunately, the novel goes off the rails during its concluding pages. In addition to throwing mind-boggling coincidences into her over-the-top plot, Rader-Day places Anna in mortal danger when the heroine makes an effort to right some egregious wrongs. Although this work of fiction is too convoluted and implausible to earn a strong recommendation, Anna's love for Josh, determination, and grit will earn readers' sympathy and admiration.



Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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