When I Was You is the third or fourth book I've read by Minka Kent. She has a gift for suspense, but this isn't my favorite of her novels. The main character, Brienne, is a damaged, isolated woman who is shocked to learn that another woman is leading her life -- wardrobe, hairstyle, perfume, car model and all. And yet her credit has not been commandeered. What gives?
It's almost too much to contemplate for someone as physically and mentally fragile as Brienne, but her curiosity seems to pull her out of her depression and agoraphobia. Six months earlier, she'd been the victim of a mugging that left her with a traumatic brain injury and upended her breezy, successful life.
I almost bailed during Part I of the book. It was whiny and touchy-feely and repeated Brienne's obsessive thoughts and musing about her crush on her tenant Niall ad nauseum. Niall is a doctor who, early in her recovery, began renting a room in the Queen Anne Victorian Brienne inherited from her grandparents.
An important clue to where the book is going happens about 1/3 of the way in, when Brienne discovers that her copycat is reading the same book she had kept on her desk during her "old life."
Niall suggests to Brienne that she is suffering from dissociative personality disorder. It felt to me as if the "split personality" diagnosis applied to the book as well. The transition from weak, needy Brienne to the bold and confident woman who sorts things out -- it was simply too sudden.
Perhaps that's because Part I (sad Brienne) and Part 3 (gutsy Brienne) take up 7/8 of the book. The remaining sliver is Part II, or transitional Brienne.
Another confusion: At the very beginning of the book, there's a philandering neighbor named Brian. Soon after, we meet a coworker of Niall's, also named Brian. This latter Brian (certainly he's not the same Brian?) also, confusingly plays two roles in Niall's narrative.
So -- what this nitpicky ready is trying to tell you: Don't sweat the small stuff, and this book will give you a thrill or two.
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for an advance readers copy.