I’m super excited today to get to review the debut novel of Rebecca Berto. Some of you might be familiar with her blog, Novel Girl. A couple months ago, she released her debut novelette, PRECISE, which is a prequel to her forthcoming novel, PULLING ME UNDER. First of all, I owe her an apology, because posting this took me way longer than it ought to have. I was deep in revision-mode for SHRIKE for most of February, and March just sort of blipped by, and all the sudden it was April. As a result, this is me sort of shamefacedly tugging a lock of hair at you all and confessing my much-belatedness in this review.
So here we go!
I would give PRECISE three stars.
The story is about a young woman named Kates, who (at the beginning of the book) lives with her husband Paul and her abusive mother. The book confronts this abuse head on through the eyes of Kates, who struggles both with her own feelings of intense confusion and her desire to create a better life for her new daughter.
Kates was a very strong character throughout the story. Her need to build a new existence with Paul and baby Ella pushes her outside of the realm of her comfort, and as a reader, I was drawn into Kates’ story. Throughout the narrative, the existent tension kept me reading as Kates tries to break free of a mother who has her fingers so tightly clenched around her life. Paul and Ella are the sole bright spots in Kates’ world, and she defends them in the best way she knows how.
Her mother, Rochelle, is terrifying. Even without being able to empathize with the experience of growing up in a home with a parent who wished you harm, it’s easy to put yourself in Kates’ shoes and imagine the trapped feeling.
The first couple chapters were a bit confusing to me, and they had a few turns of phrase that took me out of the narrative a little, but the story found its grip and held on tight after that.
While PRECISE took a little bit to find its footing, the sample pages from PULLING ME UNDER at the end of the book showed that the momentum gained throughout the rest of PRECISE was nothing if not amplified in the writing of its follow-up. PRECISE was a solid debut, and Rebecca shows an excellent talent for character development that makes the next installment in this series exceedingly promising.
Rebecca has just also released her first full-length novel, DROWNING IN YOU, which you can buy on Amazon (AND it’s climbing the ranks — as of this writing it’s at #179 in Paid Kindle Books!)
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