Book Review: Girl in the Rearview Mirror by Kelsey Rae Dimberg

Girl in the Rearview Mirror
by
Kelsey Rae Dimberg

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you watched my most recent episode of Read React Decide, you know that I selected Girl in the Rearview Mirror, after reading random passages from five random books. Despite an earlier retraction about not being able to go paperless when I read, I really did go paperless for this book. Even though I hold the hard cover version in my video, I downloaded the eBook on my Kindle. And because I was on vacation, I took zero notes. I did not want to lug around a notebook and pen. That’s not a vacation!

The author describes Girl in the Rearview Mirror, her debut, as a noir mystery with adjustments, but I felt it was more of a psychological thriller. There are no hard-boiled detectives (the “detective” is a young nanny, Finn, who tries to unravel a mystery) and it’s set in Phoenix, Arizona, not exactly gritty. I only realized she calls it noir fiction after I read it, so that was not on my mind at all.

Because I did not take notes, this will be a more casual review. Be sure to check out my follow-up video at the bottom of this post, which is a supplement to what I say here. I’m doing something new on YouTube, re-reading the passage that made me choose the book and then talking about a really funny coincidence with that.

On to the book. The story opens at a political rally, during Senator Jim Martin’s campaign for re-election. Image is everything to the Martins and the senator’s perfect-looking family surrounds him, including Philip Martin who is expected to one day step into his father’s shoes. For now, Philip focuses on his restaurant and other real estate investments. With his wife, Marina, who runs a museum, and Amabel, their adorable four-year old daughter, they look just right for the part.

Finn’s protective instinct kicks in when Amabel gasps and points to a stranger with bright red hair and exclaims, “That girl—she’s following me!” An upsetting meeting with the stranger a few days later convinces Finn she must learn all she can to protect Amabel.

A couple substories frame the plot. First, there is Philip, the second son who can’t live up to his late older brother, James’s legacy. James died a hero’s death in Iraq. Philip, meantime tries to forget a scandal that ended his college football career.

Finn also struggles with the past and the title refers to events she tried to leave behind when she left home for college. She explains, “By the time I arrived at school, I realized I could start over. I introduced myself as Finn, my middle name, and it stuck. Within months, my first name sounded foreign. Natalie was the girl in the rearview mirror.” Now she has a great gig as a nanny for a wealthy and powerful family. And her boyfriend, Bryant, who runs Jim Martin’s campaign, completes the picture.

When she meets the red-headed women, Finn agrees to deliver a message to Philip. Sounds easy, but Philip avoids Finn who discovers a tangled mess. Soon, she finds herself in danger and wonders if Bryant is her enemy.

I enjoyed this book which explores the always-interesting theme of truth versus public persona. Readers who don’t like politics may initially be put off by the political storyline, however, once Finn begins her investigation, the adversarial element between political parties moves to the background. The story is much more about how politicians smooth out their pasts and present shiny images than it is about Republicans and Democrats.

A series of twists leads to an ending I did not imagine and ties in nicely with how image is everything to politicians. I was glad to have a lighter read while on vacation. The book was easy to pick up between activities and I recommend it to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers.

Check out my video here:

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On YouTube – new episode of Read React Decide!

Hi Everyone,

I’m over on YouTube with a new fall episode of Read React Decide. I’m reading random selections from five random books and deciding which to read!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Review: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

The Girls of August
by
Anne Rivers Siddons

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’m working on my library’s summer reading Bingo card and picked The Girls of August to fill one of the squares, to read an eBook from the library’s staff picks.

The Girls of August is a beach read about four southern women, Madison, Rachel, Barbara and Melinda, who become best friends when their husbands are in medical school. Every August since, they’ve rented a beach house for an all-girls week of sun, wine, food and gossip. The story, narrated by Madison, opens when the women are in their forties. After a three-year lapse, plans are underway to meet again, but this time it will be without their beloved Melinda, who died in a tragic accident.

After much discussion, the women agree to meet at a new place, but there’s a catch. Melinda’s husband has remarried and his new wife has volunteered to host. Problem is, the new wife, appropriately named Baby, is a free spirit and twenty years younger. She’ll never be able to fill Melinda’s shoes.

Baby’s house is located on the remote fictional Tiger Island where Baby grew up, among the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The women will be all alone, for two weeks this time, except for the Gullah people who live on the other side of the island. The house is gorgeous and fully equipped and Baby shows it off with pride. Madison, Rachel and Barbara settle in, but they can’t let go of Melinda’s memory. To ease their pain, they target Baby with snide remarks and eye rolls. To be fair, Baby is a puzzle. On the surface, she’s immature, acts erratically and prances around the rooms and on the beach half-naked and sometimes naked! Is she reacting to the women or are the women reacting to Baby? In addition Madison senses trouble with her dear friends. Barbara hasn’t stopped drinking since they arrived and Rachel’s dark mood frightens her.

Small calamities, storms and plenty of drama frame this story about friendship and acceptance. To be honest, these weren’t my kind of women. The older friends are selfish and petty, the kind who wield power from inside their clique. Readers will learn more about Baby’s life and why she acts mysteriously. That makes her the most relatable, but none of the characters are fully developed. Siddons also brings the culture of the Gullah people into the story to tie together some of the plot lines. I thought this was the most interesting part of the book.

Anne Rivers Siddons was an American writer of nineteen novels, including The House Next Door (1978), Peachtree Road (1988) and Outer Banks (1991). I realized later that I read Peachtree Road years ago! The Girls of August (2014) was her last novel. Reader reviews suggest it wasn’t her best and I’m thinking about going back to her earlier books to get a better taste of her stories, including Peachtree Road because I don’t remember much! Have you read any of Siddons’ books? Which would you recommend? Leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom on YouTube – list of videos

Well I feel like I’m always talking about my YouTube channel and hope I’m not overdoing it. It’s hard to get a channel going and since I started in 2018, I’ve learned a lot. But I still have a lot more to learn! The only way to do that is to just jump in and make mistakes and I’ve made plenty 🙂

In case you are interested, this link takes you to a page with all my videos. I’ve just updated it and now you can click on the thumbnails to take you to the videos.

Thank you to all have who have subscribed and watched them. I hope you’ll come and see me!

On YouTube: My friend saw my necklace and asked me if I was a fan.

Hi Everyone,

Today on YouTube: My friend saw my necklace and asked me if I was a fan. Find out what she meant!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

🆕On YouTube today: all-new Read React Decide!

Hi Everyone,

I’m on YouTube today doing an all-new Read React Decide. I grabbed three books from the library, picked random passages and chose one book to read. Something silly happened in the middle – I hope you’ll get a chance to watch! 😅

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Are you a catch-up reader?

I don’t know about you, but something happens when I don’t get around to reading a popular book right away. As time passes, the chance that I will pick it up becomes slimmer and slimmer. Part of me thinks, well if I read it now after all this time, no one will want to talk about it with me. Because it’s fun to talk about something you liked that everyone is buzzing about too.

I like to think I’m a catch-up reader, but I don’t know if I truly qualify. Here are ten fiction books I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t. I still want to read them, but too many other books have gotten in the way. Should they be on a priority list or should they stay lost in my big pile of TBRs? I don’t know.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Are you a catch-up reader? What’s your strategy? Have you read any of these? Leave a comment!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On YouTube today – the lost tradition of writing a little note inside a book you gift

Hi Everyone! I’m on YouTube today talking about the lost tradition of writing a little note inside a book you gift. Do you still do that? Do you have any from years ago? Watch my video here:

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On YouTube: Read-React-Decide

Hi Everyone!

I’m over on YouTube reacting to five random books and deciding if I’ll read them. I hope you enjoy this video!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On YouTube – Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone,

I’m on YouTube today, giving you a quick update and wishing you alll a happy holiday season! I hope you’ll stop by and watch.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!