A review of Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
Life hasn’t been going well for teacher Margot Lewis. Her husband has run off with a colleague and she’s worried about a pupil who has gone missing, although everyone else seems adamant the girl has just run away from home.
When Margot receives a strange letter at the local newspaper where she writes ‘Dear Amy’, a regular advice column, claiming to be from another girl who disappeared years earlier, she fears there might be a connection.
And as she is drawn into a correspondence with the mysterious letter writer, disturbing secrets from her own past threaten to emerge.
The thing that first attracted me to this book was the title, as it shares my name, but I didn’t know too much about it.
It’s a claustrophobic read; a psychological thriller that delves into the world of repressed memory and trauma, and explores themes of mental illness, abuse and identity. As the story develops and Margot begins to unravel, we get the sense that she might be an unreliable narrator, filtering the story through her own memory.
At times it’s hard not to feel awful for Margot, as she fears how her history of mental illness might affect her life, especially as her divorce grows increasingly nasty. It’s hard for her to know who to trust and whether she can even trust her own mind.
This is an engaging thriller that twists back and forth between victim and kidnapper, drawing Margot further in until her own part in the story is revealed. It’s easy to empathise with Margot’s fears and her desire to find out what happened to Bethan Avery, who went missing years earlier. Despite her issues and the uncertain nature of her tale, it’s hard to dislike her.
If you enjoy this kind of book, you might also like Don’t Stand So Close by Luana Lewis, as it deals with similar themes of mental illness and abuse.
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N.B. I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, but all opinions are my own.