The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave is a modern family tale of lost, love and making the most of what's left behind. Categorized as a thriller, this read takes the reader all the way to Sausalito, California among one of the many boat houses, to witness the start of an unraveling season of Hannah Hall's life.
Title & Author: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
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.
With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.
To start things off, the synopsis (provided above) was rather intriguing. I mainly stick within the category of historical fiction, but decided to sink into this thriller after being drawn in by the book cover. The book is told by first-person narrator, Hannah Hall. A woman in her thirties, recently married and new step-mother to sixteen-year-old Bailey.
Bailey played the typical teenager step-daughter role. Purple hair, being stubborn at times, and acting down right rude to Hannah when ever she got the chance. Hannah's husband, Owen, is first presented as positively perfect. Of course, we all know those are the characters we usually need to look out for. Good-looking, loving, plans surprise getaways. Hannah was clueless of what she would soon discover about her husband's past.
A scandal comes to light at the company Owen works for, and people are in big trouble. So much so that Owen feels the need to flee. The FBI and detectives are placed on the case, but Hannah feels as if she needs to find answers on her own. Based on a faint memory Bailey has from at young, they decide to head to Texas to find answers.
Owen stood back up, giving the table a tap goodbye. Then he walked over to me. He walked over to me until somehow we were standing close to each other - too close, really, for me not wonder how we'd gotten there.- Laura Dave, The Last Thing He Told Me
Writing Style & Narration
Laura Dave has a clear and pleasant writing style that is easy to get lost in. She is able to eloquently built up characters, settings and deliver emotion into every page. The story is told in first person by the main character, Hannah. Though, it was wonderful hearing Hannah's thought process as she weeds through her horrific experience, I couldn't help but to think the story would have benefited from hearing a bit more from the other main characters.
Most of the chapters are written in a linear time-line, but many chapters also contain flash backs to help fill in gaps as Hannah and Bailey try to figure out where Owen may be. Some chapters are entirely written in the past to help build up the character's backstories. The flashbacks were mostly successful, but I had trouble in figuring out how some of them related to the present day predicament she was facing.
Though well written and interesting, the story wasn't my favorite. The beginning of the story started off strong with a startling situation and an undesirable position for the protagonist to be in. I enjoyed the opening up until the point Hannah and Bailey decide the FBI and detectives are not doing enough. Bailey has a memory from when she was a toddler of being in a stadium, surrounded by orange and white colors. Based on this, and receiving a visit from a detective from Texas, they decide to travel from California to Texas to try to figure things out. But in all reality, who would do something like that? Even in desperate times.
During their time in Texas, little events are strung together and whims of intuition lead to big breakthroughs. The way things came to light were night believable for me. At times, I felt as if the story was stringing the reader along and not really offering any valuable information. It wasn't until part three, the last 70 pages or so, when the story really started to get somewhere.
As Hannah and Bailey work together to find answers, their relationship improves. Funny how it takes the disappearance of Bailey's father to make her value Hannah in any capacity. Their relationship did not set right with me. Hannah was incredibly patient when it came to Bailey acting rudely towards her. Frankly, I just wanted someone to call Bailey out on her behavior. But instead, they just kept saying, "That's Bailey, being Bailey.".
The ending of this story was not neatly tied with a bow on the end, which I appreciated. Instead, it was more of a messy knot. The disappearance of Owen forever changed the lives of Hannah and Bailey, but they got on the best they could. They formed a bond and carried on as the unlikely family duo that they unwillingly became.
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