I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart
on October 16, 2018
Genres: Adoption, Adult, Death & Dying, Family, Murder, Mystery, Psychological Suspense
Source: TLC Book Tours
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The acclaimed author of Little Broken Things returns with another “race-to-the-finish family drama” (People) about a single mother who becomes embroiled in a mystery that threatens to tear apart what’s left of her family.
Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.
Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.
“Tense, emotionally-charged, and at times frightening, You Were Always Mine opened my eyes to the dark side of adoption. With characters that are true to life and a tremendous depth of knowledge into a shocking subject matter, this is Baart’s best book yet. Completely engrossing!”–Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
“Mothers everywhere will recognize and celebrate the fierce, imperfect strength of Jessica Chamberlain as she tries to parent her sons—one birthed and one adopted—in the wake of her estranged husband’s death. A startlingly authentic mix of suspense, grief, and family drama, You Were Always Mine reconstructs the pieces of a shattered life to reveal the darkness that destroyed it. You will never look at adoption the same way again.”–Mindy Mejia, author of Everything You Want Me To Be and Leave No Trace
Having really enjoyed Nicole Baart’s previous book, Little Broken Things, I was eager to read her next novel. I devoured You Were Always Mine in one day, and I was immersed in this family drama/murder mystery. School teacher Jessica and family practitioner Evan have been separated for several months, sharing custody of their older biological child Max and their younger adopted son Gabe. When Evan fails to pick up the children from school for his weekend visit, Jessica grows concerned since he’s always on time and reliable when it comes to the children. She is disbelieving when a deputy from a nearby state’s police calls and says that they’ve discovered her husband’s body, dead as the result of a hunting accident. No way could this be her husband since he doesn’t hunt, and he didn’t tell anyone that he would be out of town.
Jessica’s life spirals as she deals with the death of her popular husband. As the police investigate why he was there, she does some digging on her own, and the answers that she finds bring an unknown danger closer to her doorstep. Jessica is normally on top of everything with her family and career, but the stress of her husband’s death and the special needs of her adoptive son, along with her older son’s acting out make it hard for her to cope. As she fixates on finding out what her late husband was doing with his final months that lead up to his death, she isn’t the best mother that she could be–and people notice.
Nicole Baart gives us a deep dive into Jessica’s psyche as she tries to juggle it all, and her desperate attempts to hold it all together are frenzied, full of love for her children, and fueled by a need to know the truth about her husband. Each chapter starts with a cryptic heading with a female’s name and some code, which was confusing at first, but is later revealed to be a part of something larger and very meaningful. Interspersed throughout Jessica’s chapters are excerpts of Evan’s communications with Gabe’s birth mother, and it was nice to get a view of what Evan was like and what possibly led to his death.
I give You Were Always Mine a four out of five. The pacing of this book was definitely a bit slower since it focused on the day to day of Jessica and her family as they try to hold it together after Evan’s death. But the overall mystery of what actually happened to Evan ticked up the suspense as Jessica revealed the truth page by page. The characters were well-rounded and unique, and I loved that the children sounded like actual children and not mini-adults. Nicole Baart writes about adoptions and the consequences of closed adoptions with authority, bringing the what-could-go-wrong scenarios to life in a suspenseful way that was enjoyable to read about. I totally didn’t see the villian reveal coming, and I was very surprised. I definitely recommend You Were Always Mine to lovers of psychological suspense and family dramas.
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About Nicole Baart
Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. Her books have been featured in Southern Living, Country Woman, Book Page, Glam, Brit & Co., and on Yahoo Lifestyle, and her latest release, Little Broken Things, was a People Magazine Editor’s Pick. Nicole is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, including You Were Always Mine (available 10/16/18 from Atria Books).
Connect with Nicole Baart
Nicole Baart’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for YOU WERE ALWAYS MINE:
Tuesday, October 16th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Wednesday, October 17th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, October 22nd: Literary Quicksand
Wednesday, October 24th: @bookpairings
Friday, October 26th: Eliot’s Eats
Monday, October 29th: Amy’s Book-et List
Tuesday, October 30th: Girl Who Reads
Thursday, November 1st: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, November 7th: Fiction Aficionado
Monday, November 12th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, November 14th: @wherethereadergrows