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Don't You Cry


Don't You Cry

DON’T YOU CRY is as impressive a book as you are likely to read this year. It’s not great literature --- as I’ve said before and will say again, not everything has to be, or should --- but what a story it is, and so well constructed and told. I was up part of the night reading it (in one sitting) and spent a good portion of the remainder analyzing what Mary Kubica had done and pulled off so well.

The book takes place in the right now (well, maybe a few months ago) as fall invades the Midwest. It is set in Chicagoland and in a small Michigan beachtown in Chicago’s orbit. Think gray and wet. The narrative alternates over the course of a very long five days between two very different people. Quinn Collins is a young woman living in Chicago and working at her first professional job, one that she hates but for a co-worker she is crushing on. The one bright spot is her roommate, another young woman named Esther Vaughan. Esther is outgoing, attractive and supportive, if somewhat closed up and reserved about her immediate family. Reading between the lines of Quinn’s narrative, we also learn that Esther is more of a giver to Quinn’s taker.

"While both a mystery and a thriller, DON’T YOU CRY is also a story of revenge, contrition, forgiveness, redemption and nobility."

The two are a bit of an odd couple but are good friends, which makes Esther’s sudden disappearance one Sunday morning all the more puzzling. Quinn becomes increasingly distressed as Esther doesn’t reappear, her discomfort intensifying as she begins snooping through Esther’s belongings in order to get some sort of clues as to what may have happened. She doesn’t like what she finds, and begins to wonder if perhaps there is a side to Esther that she never suspected.

Meanwhile, Alex’s days are full of drudgery. He is 19, employed as a dishwasher and table busser at a diner in that economically distressed beachtown I mentioned earlier, and fighting a losing battle as he attempts to spiritually and financially support his alcoholic father, who is slowly wasting away in their deteriorating house. However, his life is brightened considerably when an enigmatic young woman materializes, seemingly out of nowhere, at the diner and slowly yet inexorably lures him into her orbit. She gradually begins to exhibit what might be described as an unhealthy interest in one of the town’s local legends, one that will eventually involve Alex in ways he never could’ve predicted, though things will almost certainly not end well.

There are two genuine mysteries at the heart of the book. You may be able to guess/figure out/discern part of one of them, but it’s doubtful that you will get at the full heart of either or both of them. Kubica does a neat thing here, drawing two storylines toward each other without actually fully intersecting them, at least until the dust settles and the smoke clears. While both a mystery and a thriller, DON’T YOU CRY is also a story of revenge, contrition, forgiveness, redemption and nobility. It’s a tale, and a book, you won’t want to miss reading.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 19, 2016

Don't You Cry
by Mary Kubica