The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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The first thing my mother said  was: “I don’t remember any Emmy.” As if this were the most important fact. 

 

Leah Stevens was a journalist, but she pushed too hard for the truth that ended in tragedy, one that made her suspect. Filled with shame, guilt and failure she flees Boston, bumping into her old college friend Emmy Grey who is escaping her own personal disaster (a rotten relationship). The answer is to head to Pennsylvania together for a fresh start, a much more quiet setting where Leah can take up teaching. Naturally, her mother sees this as a huge step backwards in her road to success. Why teaching? Why there? Lurking through the story is an incident that led Leah to her current hiding place, hiding from life, memories, her future. Then a woman is attacked, one who resembles her roommate Emmy-  when Emmy fails to come home, Leah knows something is dreadfully wrong. Terrified for herself and desperate to find her friend before it’s too late, she begins to uncover the mystery.

In walks Kyle Donovan, a police officer working the case as it grows stranger still. Emmy hasn’t just gone missing, she has disappeared into thin air, as if she never existed at all. Leah begins to doubt Emmy was ever real, pushing her to confront someone from her past, someone she is better off staying away from. Has she lost her mind? Is Emmy someone she conjured into existence? How can someone vanish so completely that they leave no crumbs behind? There aren’t even pictures! Maybe Leah has lost her mind! We don’t know anymore than she does. The reader comes to doubt her recollections. Just what did she do in the past, was she wrong? Is she a liar? Just who is the victim? Is someone after her?There has to be a truth to dig up, someone must have seen something? As she pieces her life together, and dissects her time with Emmy she begins to realize things are not solid, that she is to blame but why?

I thought this story was going somewhere else, so it was a nice surprise I guessed wrong. I was tricked, which I like in a mystery/thriller because I hate when I guess everything straight off. I doubted the ending, thinking most of us would react differently. As Leah’s past surfaced, I didn’t trust her nor the way she couldn’t remember straight- I think this is the best part of the novel- that self-doubting demon in all of us. The fear we have betrayed ourselves, either by confusion or delusions. What can we do when no one can back up our truth? Confirm what is real?

This was good, there are some strange characters even at her school. I kept thinking I knew what happened and pegging ‘who done it’  but nope. In All The Missing Girls, I didn’t guess what was going on either so I have to give Megan Miranda credit, it isn’t easy to mislead most avid readers. What bigger stranger exists than ourselves?

Publication Date: May  16, 2017

Simon & Schuster

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