Never Have I Ever, by Joshilyn Jackson

It’s always the same old story with Joshilyn Jackson — I wait a couple of years for her to come out with a new book and then I devour it in less than a day. Her writing is always so crisp, her plots so compelling, her characters so real and believable.

Never Have I Ever starts with a group of suburban moms whose tight little circle is infiltrated by Roux, a newcomer to the neighbourhood. Roux gets everyone a little drunk at book club and gets people to confess the worst thing they’ve ever done. Turns out lots of these ladies have secrets they’d rather hide, but only one — main character Amy — has a secret she’s willing to do anything to protect. And as the story unfolds it becomes clear that Roux’s game wasn’t just an edgy icebreaker: she’s after Amy’s secret, and if she reveals it, Amy’s marriage, her kids, her entire life could be at stake.

This is a bit more thriller-y than Jackson’s previous novels, and I don’t usually read thrillers, but I’m willing to be taken on this kind of ride by a writer I trust. This, like my last review, is another book where the “dark secret in a character’s past” trope really pays off — it’s utterly believable that Amy would do everything she does to keep the truth from coming to light. There was one small aspect of Amy’s character (her relationship with her mother, glossed over in a fairly cliche way by a writer who is normally so good at mother-daughter relationships and almost never resorts to cliches) that disappointed me a little bit. But it’s the only remotely flat note in an otherwise pitch-perfect symphony of plot and character that pulled me right along to the satisfying conclusion.

And now I have to wait for her next book ….

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