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Review: Emma in the Night

Review: Emma in the Night

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Emma in the Night, Wendy Walker
Published August 8, 2017
4.5 Stars

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

This was one of my September selections from Book of the Month, selected by guest Judge Krysten Ritter, which made me all the more excited to give it a read.

The book summary puts it right out there that something doesn’t add up about Cass’s story. It becomes clear fairly early on that Cass is telling her story in a very specific way, but what her reasons are for this aren’t immediately clear.

Through Dr. Winter we get an interesting look at the psychology of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, teaching readers that this disorder creates a cycle, with one parent creating a child with NPD who then grows up and poorly parents a child who then also grows up to have NPD. But beyond the people who maybe can’t quite help themselves the way we would hope, are the people who are just plain manipulative and terrible, whose actions continue to shock throughout the book.

The book is relatively short at 320 pages, making it easy to just keep reading, turning page after page to try and figure out where Cass is leading everyone. By the time Cass’s long game is revealed it’s apparent both how clever this girl, and the author are in leading everyone to the climatic moment. The book feels entertaining, surprisingly informative, and leaves the reader with a little bit of hope in the wake of truly devastating scenes.  

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