Just What Kind of Mother Are You is Paula Daly’s debut novel published in April 2013 by Transworld Publishers. I first heard of the novel via Twitter since Kate Atkinson’s PR- Alison Barrow – is also Daly’s. At the time I heard of the novel, Alison was offering ARCs and I asked her to please send me one and she kindly did. This is a SPOILER-FREE review:
What if your best friend’s child disappears? And it was all your fault.
This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto, overwhelmed working mother of three, one freezing December in the English Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descends into the stuff of nightmares. Because, not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing, and not only is it all Lisa’s fault, but she’s the second teenage girl to disappear within this small tight-knit community over two weeks. The first girl turned up stripped bare, dumped on a busy high street, after suffering from a terrifying ordeal.
The first thing I heard about Just What Kind of Mother Are You was a comparison to the well-known thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn wich I loved and kept me glue to the pages for a few, very intense days, so I already knew before starting Daly’s novel that it was very probable I would like it. And I did. I read Just What Kind of Mother Are You in three days and I developed a need to keep reading, no matter the many other things I had to do. I just loved the story, the wintery setting and above all, the main characters.
Already in page 50 I tweeted Daly how much I loved the main characters. This is a novel written by a woman with complex and greatly developed women as main characters. Lisa Kallisto is your strong, average working mother fighting exhausting on a daily basis and trying to meet everyone’s expectations as a mother, a wife, a working woman etc. The DP in charge of the investigation of Lucinda’s disappearance is also a woman but Lisa’s complete opposite: she is neither married nor does she have children. Daly manages to create two different women that will ring a bell to every reader because we all know someone in our lives who resembles them.
Regarding the mystery, I think it is everyone’s fear that a beloved one goes missing. The uncertainty of not knowing where or how your beloved one is and, as time goes by, the impossibility to give closure to the tragedy is probably one of the worst situations one can imagine. In Just What Kind of Mother Are You the disappearance of twelve-year old Lucinda influences differently everyone from her environment: her best friend, her classmates, Lisa, her mother etc. Although they all suffer, there are huge differences among the way they suffer and all of those ways are portrayed and explored in the novel.
So, I would recommend Just What Kind of Mother Are You to anyone who likes mysteries, thrillers, psychological novels or simply novels with great female characters. It could easily be comparted to Gone Girl, but I think Daly explores a different side of being a woman in today’s society than Flynn did. This is a book written by a woman and with amazing female main characters and an exploration of our society’s flaws and too-demanding views from a female point of view.
Come back next week for an exclusive interview with author Paula Daly!