Destiny awakes with amnesia. She’d been driving on a wet road, about to leave flowers at a memorial marker of a deceased classmate, when she almost met that same fate.
Her mother, Mildred, is beyond restrictive, and she doesn’t want Destiny to have her cellphone back. A nurse sneaks it into her room, but it’s useless without the passcode. After her hospital stay, her mother becomes physically abusive.
Destiny and Gabriel, the boy she’s been developing feelings for, decide to drive around to jog her memory. She’s positive she crashed near a memorial marker. When they find the place in question, and when Destiny remembers her phone’s passcode, nothing is as it seems – and Mildred is crazier than she thought.
I received this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.
I’ve talked about keeping things from the reader before in another post, and how And We Stay didn’t keep enough secrets to keep me interested. Girl Without a Face keeps the secret. From the back of the book, what is written above in the block quote, we know something is wrong. We get clues throughout the entirety of the book and the reader figures out the answer before the main character does, but the hints are dished out with a gentle hand – done in a way that makes the reader feel smart instead of bored. The author drops breadcrumbs just far enough away to keep us moving the direction we want, but close enough that we don’t lose interest.
I do have some technicality problems, though. I don’t know much about these sorts of situations or police work, so maybe these thoughts don’t make any sense. A car crashes, throwing out the driver. The car catches on fire and the license plate melts. It doesn’t seem like the police did hardly any work to figure out who the car belongs to and I’m not sure that would happen in real life. It seems like the police would try to do something to get the news out there, like identify the make and model of the car as well as they could and post about it in the newspaper or somewhere, at least matching it with recent stolen car reports.
The mom really wants to keep this phone away from Dez, yet leaves it on a counter where the nurse is able to swipe it. The mom isn’t afraid to make an argument with anyone, yet doesn’t make a peep about the missing phone, that we know of. Following the mother’s character, it seems plausible that she would have pitched a fight to make sure she had the phone and Dez wouldn’t get it.
There is a pretty fast love between Dez and her neighbor Gabriel (who helps her try to discover who she used to be before the accident) which I didn’t mind because I am a sucker for adorable, sweet men, but I don’t think Dez, going through a hard time at home with her mom after getting in a car accident so bad she got amnesia, would be ready to hop in a car so soon, much less even think about a relationship with all these other complications. I like Gabriel’s character. He is sweet and so is the relationship with his grandpa (might not be the grandpa, but I think it was). He works with kids for his volunteer hours, he talks to all the older people and school administration at the school when he goes there to help the kids… He knows how to people, but other than that, he isn’t the most interesting guy. I don’t think he needed more for this story to be successful though.
There was another character, Cidney, a person Dez believes was giving her a hard time throughout school, that transitions from a bully to a character who tries to stop her friends from hurting someone (she was the leader of the pack in her bullying days) just by being expelled, when she had been threatened with expulsion many times before and continued to be mean to classmates, teachers, and the principal. Based on how mean her character was to begin with, I felt like it would have taken more for Cindey to realize she was seriously hurting people and become a nicer character.
The main character Dez, or Destiny, was really relatable. I’ve never had amnesia, so I can’t comment with knowledge on that part, but she was desperate to find out more about herself, which made her get out of the house and try and find out because her mom wouldn’t help her. Also, she was pretty ballsy, which I admired about her. If I were in the situation she found herself in, I would have curled into a weeping ball on my bed and never left. She is relatable in the situation where her mom gets onto her for having messy handwriting when it used to be large and bubbly before the accident. Dez has no idea what to do about this and her mother’s anger because Dez doesn’t know how to write like that. Something changed after the accident that caused the handwriting to also change. The hopelessness with that and suddenly not being as good with math as she used to be that Dez feels is incredibly powerful and I felt like I was there with Dez, feeling like there was nothing I could do to be this person that my mother expected me to be.
I’ve listed out a lot of things that could be potential negatives with this book (police inaccuracy, the phone situation with the mom, insta-love, and Cidney’s attitude transition), but I really loved this book, so I want to make sure I pointed that out again. I am not one to normally read mysteries or suspense or whatever this falls into, but the change was nice, especially with a book so well written and good and keeping the secret as this one. I wanted to explain this book more so you’d be able to gather a sense of what the book was about more than the book blurb says, but I didn’t want to give the mystery away.
Going to point out one more questioning negative before I end this review. There was mental illness in this book, and I’m not sure it was handled with the most care. The person with the mental illness doesn’t have hardly any redeeming qualities, which makes her be this almost completely *evil* character. Mental illness seems to be poorly accepted as it is and this book doesn’t give this character redeeming qualities. The handling of this topic is not done with a delicate hand, but if that won’t bug you while reading, then no problems there.
So, scientifically, I’m not sure this book works, but I was interested other than that and enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with Dez.