Goodreads): An amazing talent makes her debut with this stylish psychological thriller—with the compelling intrigue of The Silent Wife and Turn of Mind and the white-knuckle pacing of Before I Go to Sleep —in which a woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend during a breakdown.
Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia's death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out.
Is murder on her mind - or is it all in her head?
The closer she comes to piecing together shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her . . . or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again? A story of marriage, murder and madness, The Pocket Wife explores the world through the foggy lens of a woman on the edge.
And here's what I thought: I picked up a galley of this book at the ALA Midwinter conference on Saturday, opened it on the train ride home, and finished it this morning. Can you tell I had a hard time putting it down? I found I kept turning the pages, worried for the main character, and wondering what would happen by the end of the book.
As you can see from the summary, Dana is a woman who has issues, and this makes her into a somewhat unreliable narrator. At times, you have a difficult time telling if something is really happening or is in her mind. I also felt like I couldn't quite get to know her well as a character, like I was seeing her out of the corner of my eye, but never complete and in focus. However, I found that I enjoyed that, and how it kept me feeling a bit off balance throughout the story. It's hard to tell what's real, and who might be telling the truth or lying, and combined with the steady pace, it made for a great thriller.
I do not have any personal experience with bipolar disorder, so I cannot speak to how accurately Dana's character is portrayed. However, she felt real enough to me that I worried about her, and felt like at times, I was on edge right with her. I can't say that I really liked her as a character, but I did feel sympathetic towards her. I actually don't feel it necessary to like characters; what I need is to find them interesting, or the story interesting. In this story, the off-balance quality that seemed to be careening steadily towards falling off the edge completely kept me reading.
First lines: The ambulance is still miles away when Dana awakens to the near dark of evening. It wails ribbon-thin in the smog over the highway as she opens her eyes where she lies sprawled across her couch in a suburb of Paterson, a stone's throw from Manhattan but in a different world entirely. She wakes to a headache throbbing at the backs of her lids, a library book lying beside her. She sits up and reaches for the book, marking her place with a tiny corner fold, giving it a little pat as she sets it on the coffee table.