The book opens as 11yr old Stella’s father is forcing (albeit without actual physical force) her family to leave remote Evergreen Island, the only home she’s known. Ferrying people between the island and Poole Harbour is her father’s job but the weather is dire and their decision to leave sudden.
Stella is devastated, expecting her mother to refuse her father’s wishes, so surprised when she agrees to their hurried departure. It’s an ominous and quite frantic start to this story.
by Heidi Perks
Published by Century
on July 11th 2019
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 1780898851, 9781780898858
A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body.
For Stella Harvey the news is doubly shocking. The body has been found in the garden of her childhood home - the home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.
Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the isolated island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets.
Twenty-five years later Stella is a counsellor. She talks about having boxed-up any feelings about her childhood and compartmentalised them. She still doesn’t entirely know why they left their idyllic life so suddenly and – despite her requests – her mother refused to take her back. Ostensibly they left because her father found a better paid job elsewhere, but her parents separated not long after the move. Her brother left home as soon as he was able, and with her beloved mother now dead and father remarried, Stella really only has her sister Bonnie – who’s fought her own demons over the years.
The discovery of bones near their old house on Evergreen Island brings up a lot of memories for Stella and realising she’s never really closed that part of her life, she decides to travel back. Briefly.
Interestingly she’s not entirely welcomed back into the tight-knit community. There seem to be secrets kept and even though in many ways she’s not an outsider, she’s treated in a way that seems strange. She’s keen to reconnect with old friends but it seems that’s not a possibility.
The story unfolds via Stella in the now and in the past mostly via her mother Maria – spanning a couple of months before the family left the island for good in September 1993.
This book was a little longer than I expected and probably delved a little deeper as well. It gets a tad complicated and I wasn’t entirely sure I ultimately knew who was running from what in the end. Nevertheless we learn early on that many who head to the remote island have their secrets and Stella’s family was no different.
This book has a couple of interesting twists and I felt a sense of regret that the truth didn’t (and doesn’t) necessarily all come out.
We’re reminded that all families have baggage and parents want the best for their children and – in some cases – will do anything for them. But there’s also a reminder that secrets can fester and sometimes honesty could actually help prevent more dire outcomes down the track.
I read Perks’ Now You See Her last year and enjoyed the twists it offered. It also centred around families harbouring secrets, so I look forward to more from her.
Come Back for Me by Heidi Perks will be published by Penguin Random House UK in July 2019.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review.