That Weekend / Kara Thomas / Book Review

That Weekend

Blurb

It was supposed to the perfect weekend. Ditching prom, sneaking out with her best friend to lake house, time alone with her boyfriend: what could go wrong?

Something clearly did. 

Waking up alone and bloodied on the side of a hiking trail, Claire doesn't know what day it is. She doesn't know where she is, and she doesn't know where Kat and Jesse have gone. Thirty-six hours of her life, missing. Claire is whisked off to the ER while search parties sweep the area, looking for her best friends, but as the hours turn to days, the questions turn on Claire, the only witness to what exactly happened that weekend. 

Pros

  • Fractured Timeline: A lot of thrillers employ a fractured timeline, so this book is by no means unique. However, though this technique is common, it is employed for good reason, and Kara Thomas wields it well. Without a fractured and disjointed timeline, this storyline might otherwise be dull and commonplace in the genre, but jumping back and forth between past, present, and future adds an unsettling air of mystery to the tale. The readers alongside the characters are forced to fill in the gaps, and the fractured state of the timeline fractures the narrative as well, allowing for doubt and suspicion to creep in. 
  • Trust Issues: Messing with trust is a great way to build tension in a thriller, and Kara Thomas certainly does that. Because Claire doesn't remember, she can't trust her memory. She can't rely on herself, and she is seemingly the only one who made it off the mountain that weekend. The others involved are missing, and so their close family members and friends, those who previously trusted Claire, start to doubt and distrust Claire as well. This adds nervous tension to the dynamic, because Claire can't trust anyone involved. And anyone could be involved--even Claire herself.  
  • Hard Topic: Though this book is on many levels a generic thriller, woven into it is a very real and important topic: domestic abuse. From allegations to reality, this book is sprinkled with references and reasons. No one likes to talk about domestic abuse, but it is something that happens, and it is something that should be represented in all of its shades of gray. Because of this undercurrent throughout the book, this book is pinned up by hard, fear-fueled choices--adding a layer to this thriller that otherwise would not exist. 

Cons

  • Rude ER Staff: I get that it adds to the trauma of Claire's experience, but even in a busy ER, there can be enough time to explain some things to the patient. I would hope most nurses would have the decency to be courteous to a concussed, traumatized teenaged girl all alone in their ER. In fact, I think many would, and I don't like that this isn't included. Especially now, after the year we've had, a more positive spin on the nurse character (and a spin that is also more accurate, frankly, than the caricature provided) would be a better deal. 
  • Inaccurate Medical Experience: Yeah, yeah, suspension of disbelief--believe me, I know. Suspension of disbelief is not usually a problem for me, all things considered, but in this particular book, everything was just so glaringly wrong. No one with a brain injury traumatic enough to end up in the ICU will just be, point blank, handed sleeping pills by trained medical professionals. Anyone who has stayed in a hospital knows that you are constantly being woken up, and that's even more true with something like a brain injury on board. No one will be able to simply "slip away" from an ER nurse either, and that Claire is able to run out of the ICU in a dream-induced panic? Crazy. I don't buy it. This is just the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately, and it was hard for me to ignore these problems. Such issues created a distance from the text, and I found it hard to sink into the book even once the plot moved on. 
  • Middle Grade Adjacent: Perhaps the biggest problem with this book is that it just doesn't read like YA. The plot, the narrative, the voice are all too simple. It might be a good read for someone just moving up from lower level books--for someone, perhaps, without any experience reading thrillers. Suspension of disbelief, as I've mentioned, will be difficult for anyone who is not, perhaps, a legitimate child, which means it isn't really good for an audience that's much older. Some of the topics covered are not topics for a children's book, but the story most definitely is. 

Rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/10

Anyone who enjoyed the tangled contemporary thriller All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban should check out this new page-turner. Those who were enamored by the glamorously deadly world of Wendy Heard's She's Too Pretty to Burn should sink into the unsettlingly deadly choices of this book as well. 

Details

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: June 22, 2021
Series: N/A
Buy It HERE

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.

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