Who Are You?
By Elizabeth Forbes
Published by Cutting Edge Press
Reviewed by Jessica Patient
Sometimes the second novel from an author can be a bit disappointing after a fantastic first novel. However, Elizabeth Forbes is not one of those authors. Who Are You? Is just as gripping as her first novel, The Nearest Thing to Crazy, which we reviewed here at The View From Here back in 2013.
On the surface, Alex and Juliet are the perfect couple. Alex, once a career officer in an elite regiment for the army now has a job in the city while Juliet stays at home, in their detached house in the leafy suburbs of London, looking after their young son, Ben. But things are not what they seem. Forbes picks away at the surface of the perfect couple and their perfect life to reveal a chilling, gritty story.
The title sets the theme of the book – who are these characters? Its hard to feel aligned with either of the characters as Forbes makes sure the reader sees the story from both viewpoints by having alternating chapters from both Juliet and Alex’s perspective. Who Are You? is a gripping, yet uncomfortable read at times.
Forbes also explores the way people feel like they must wear a mask in public to fit in with society and hide away their real personality. Both Juliet and Alex are troubled with scars from their childhood, Alex with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from his time in the army and Juliet with the drugs and alcohol from her younger days. These secrets are kept locked away but start to ripple into their normal lives, threatening to derail the life they have built around them to block out their pasts.
Forbes doesn’t shy away from the reality of domestic violence and the effects of PTSD on the whole family. Alex has too much pride to deal with the PTSD and takes it out on Juliet with his abuse towards Juliet being both mental and physical. It was these sections of the novel that were very well researched but were also the most uncomfortable to read. Juliet finds a forum on the Internet on how to deal with a sufferer with PTSD but things are not what they seem. Forbes makes sure there are enough twists and turns to build the tension into a tense ending.
This book isn’t for the faint-hearted but Forbes writes in such a way that you can’t put down the book. This is definitely a great psychological thriller. I’m really looking forward to Elizabeth Forbes’s third book.
Who Are You?