I only had to read one review of The Promised World to know that I would like this book. I requested it from my library immediately, and as soon as I took it home, I dove right in. I had to use all of my willpower not to finish the novel that same day – it captivated me from the start.
The book starts out with Lila learning that her twin brother, Billy, has just died – he’s committed “suicide by police”. Since Billy is hands-down the most important person in her life, she predictably falls to pieces. But Lila is not the only person who was affected by Billy’s death – he left behind a (soon to be ex-) wife and three young children, who are also obviously shaken with Billy’s death. And in the aftermath of his death, Lila begins to question everything she thought she knew about her brother, about her past, and about her own memories.
The Promised World is a pretty awesome novel. Just as I expected, I loved the book and couldn’t put it down. Let me first tell you that the novel is told from multiple perspectives – something I love when it’s done well, and Lisa Tucker definitely does it well here. The story is told by Lila, her husband Patrick, Ashley (Billy’s wife), and William (Billy’s ten-year-old son). Hearing from all these different characters really gives the reader a true feel for who Billy was, since each person had such a different relationship with him than the others. It also helped to see the characters for what they really were – Lila, for example, seemed okay when she was narrating, but from any other characters’ perspective, it was clear that she was not handling Billy’s death well, that she was being completely self-absorbed and wasn’t thinking of anything but her own grief. And Ashley was clearly not a perfect mother, but she was a totally different person from Lila’s point of view as she was from Patrick’s or William’s.
The family secrets are exposed slowly in the book, creating a tense atmosphere that really kept me guessing. Obviously child abuse is at the heart of the issues in Lila’s family, but who, what, where, when, and how are some of the questions Lila doesn’t seem to know the answers to about her own past. She has vague memories, but Billy constructed elaborate stories about their childhood that made her forget most of what really happened. After Billy’s death, Lila needs to figure out for herself what’s real and what’s not concerning her own life. I had an idea what secrets Lila would uncover, and I ended up being partly right but partly VERY wrong, so I can tell you right now that the book is not too predictable, which I loved. There were some aspects to the story that I’m still confused on, actually, and now that I’m thinking about it I’m not sure that Lisa Tucker meant for the reader to have all the answers in the end. I think that Lila herself didn’t even have all the answers in the end, but it’s what she did learn about herself and her brother that is important.
The Promised World is definitely a book that I’d recommend reading. It’s got suspense, drama, family secrets, multiple points of view – what’s not to love?🙂
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