Past Suspicion

Past Suspicion - Therese Heckenkamp I started reading this book, and I thought it was amazing. I was going to give it a five star rating. Then we met the love interests. What is it about love-triangles that authors find so attractive? At first neither of the boys, Justin and Philip, were very interesting. Justin was the stereotypical annoying, sarcastic guy who the girl likes, but doesn't know why, and Philip was the stereotypical handsome, charming guy who is practically a Ken doll he's so perfect. Justin actually did become more interesting, as you could see that there was more to him then just his stereotype. He was actually dealing with a lot of baggage, like Robin. Philip, on the other hand, never got interesting. When he finally stopped being a Ken doll it was to start being a Disney villain. The book was written before Frozen came out, but Philip was basically Hans. One thing odd about him is that Robin seems to think he's about twenty, but she's only eighteen and barely remembers the accident that her father died in. For Philip to remember it as clearly as he seems to I would think he'd have to have been about eight or nine, and for Robin to have no memory of it I'd think she'd have to be four or five at the oldest. Robin got very annoying when she was around her love interests. She was negative before, when she was around the boys, she became downright annoying. "I wish I was pretty. I know I'm not that good looking, but I'm not ugly... whine, whine, complain, complain," Seemed to be a lot of what she was thinking, and then she was ready to run off with a handsome, charming guy she'd only met two weeks ago. She was like Anna in Frozen, but not as nice.

There is some clunky writing; "I was frozen with the ultimate fear: fear of the unknown." Why not just say "I was frozen with the fear of the unknown" and leave it at that? There is a bizarre mix of clumsy writing; "Thanks to my habit of drawing, I always wore clothes with pockets and I was usually never without some kind of pencil," and beautiful, elegant writing; "Thoughts churned through my mind, scraping and grinding like malfuctioning gears," that I wish someone would have proof read it for awkward sentences so that the author could have reached her full potential. I think that if Therese Heckenkamp's writing was reviewed more thouroughly by friends and family, or at least the author herself, before being sent to the publisher, I think that her writing could become truly brilliant. Sometimes I think it's a simple matter of the author trying to hard. There was a moment when she described a cemetary as a 'stone garden' and that is an incredibly beautiful, touching discription, but then she continued to explain that all of the headstones were unique. We didn't need that. It's been established that this is an old town, and therefore the cemetary would be old, and old cemetaries have diverse headstones because they were made by hand. If the discription had been left at 'stone garden' then I would have loved that sentence just for that incredible metaphor, but the added discriptions made the sentence feel clumsy.

This is a book that sucks you into the action and makes you want to know what's going to happen next. The problem is, that the character from the prologue, Tiffany, Robin's mother, has a much better voice than Robin, the main character. Robin is whiney and bitter, Tiffany is scared and confused, but she isn't feeling sorry for herself the way that Robin is. Robin spends quite a bit of time complaining about how her mother was paranoid and how that ruined Robins life, and because of this, I had some trouble with the believability of the scenes where Robin is missing her mother. Robin talks about how boring her uncle's bookstore is, and whines about it and thinks that the only people who will bother coming into it are old ladies, yet Robin herself likes to read. Does she think she's the only person of her age who enjoys reading?: I have never worked in a bookstore, but when I go into them, whether they be Barnes and Noble or a used bookstore, I always enjoy myself. I would love sorting books in the back, which Robin complains about, even I had to deal with dust, you could look at books and see if you wanted to read them. If working there was as boring as Robin claims, then she could read them too. Robin did become more interesting once she stopped immersing herself in self-pity, and she did have a lot of character growth. Given how much I hated her at the beginning of the book, it's surprising that I did end up liking her by the end.

There were two more things I felt were careless on the author's part. The first is when Robin locks herself out of the house. How does she do this? I'm confused. She didn't bring a key with her, but she left after her uncle, and the door was locked. She must, therefore have used the doorknob lock before leaving, because if she'd used the bolt lock above the doorknob, the door wouldn't close if it had been locked while the door was opened. This whole thing is sort of weird because doorknob locks aren't as secure as bolt locks, and it seems weird that Robin would unlock the door, open it, and relock it without once considering the consequences of doing that and not bringing a key. The other thing is that the way Philip gave himself away to Robin that he wasn't trustworthy (though she'd been starting to suspect already,) was that he started talking about how beautiful California was at that time of year, but he'd told her the day they first met that he'd never been to California. I went back to their first meeting in the bookstore and reread it twice. California didn't even come up. The author doesn't feel the need to put us through the entire conversation, so she just says that Philip told Robin about the places he'd travelled, but not if he had said that he had never been to California, and it was an important plot point, then that part of the conversation should have been written in more clearly.

For all that I'm pointing out the flaws in the writing, I did enjoy the book, and with a few more reviews and revisements it could have been amazing. I will read more of Therese Heckenkamp.

Edit: I have noticed that the author recommends reading the updated version, rather than the edition published in 2003. I read the 2003 edition because that is what I could get from interlibrary loan. If I have the opportunity to read the new edition, I will.