Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.
But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?
Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.
I loved McGinnis’ debut duology, Not A Drop to Drink, but I hadn’t read anything by her since. Obviously, when I saw this one was available to review, I snapped it up. Unfortunately, it was more than a little disappointing.
I love the idea of having an unreliable narrator tell the story of how she absorbed her sister’s heart in the womb (this obviously didn’t really happen) and how it’s now affecting her actions and thoughts. The concept was a good one, there’s no denying it. But I feel like the execution was a massive let down.
The writing was, to be honest, all over the place. The story felt jagged and jarring, and it wasn’t put together very well. We were kind of flung from scene to scene, as though McGinnis had some really great ideas for certain scenes and failed to bridge them properly.
Also, I’m unsure about the portrayal of mental illness in this book. The unreliable narrator was horribly ill, and I’m not sure how comfortable I was with the whole thing. The therapist was a dumbass, and I didn’t like the portrayal of mental health professionals either. I don’t know how accurate it was, but I’m pretty sure it was almost entirely fictitious. At least I bloody hope it was!
Overall, I’m disappointed. I noticed that a lot of McGinnis fans felt the same way about this one, so I’m not going to write off her writing just yet. I’m definitely going to read her previously released books, and I’m especially excited for The Female of the Species. I wouldn’t recommend this one, especially if you’re sensitive to dark subject matters and the way mental health is portrayed.