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She's Not Sorry


She's Not Sorry

Bestselling author Mary Kubica, whose novels include JUST THE NICEST COUPLE and LOCAL WOMAN MISSING, is back with SHE’S NOT SORRY, another captivating, emotionally resonant thriller.

As an ICU nurse, Meghan Michaels is thorough and precise. Her sister died by suicide years ago, and now, as a woman navigating her own divorce, she brings a certain compassion to the job that has helped her spot domestic abuse victims and try to aid them in seeking help. But Meghan isn’t infallible, or even particularly successful, despite how much she cares. She is still grieving a patient who, after coming in again and again battered and bruised, returned to her husband only to be murdered by him.

"Mary Kubica returns to the model that has earned her great acclaim: a propulsive, ripped-from-the-headlines plotline that is both grounded and bolstered by her keenly written, compassionately drawn characters…wrapped in an explosive twist."

So when Meghan arrives at work to yet another chilling case --- a beautiful young woman named Caitlin Beckett, who attempted to jump to her death from a local bridge --- she worries that it’s just too much bad news at once. Suicide in particular is a difficult topic for her, and she knows that her discomfort at the patient’s bedside is palpable. It doesn’t help that Caitlin is in critical condition, and given her comatose state, no one is quite sure if she will live or ever be herself again if she does.

But Caitlin’s parents present a different side to their daughter that unnerves Meghan. They haven’t been in contact with Caitlin in some time, and they were not even aware that she was living in the area again after moving to California. She could be a little feckless and reckless, and they often had to help her out of trouble. It’s clear that in her waking life, she was a bit of a wild card, perhaps even a party girl. But none of that seems to connect to the young lady who was so desperate to end her life that she jumped off a bridge onto the train tracks below. The dichotomy between the bad girl runaway and the beloved daughter of two devoted parents makes Meghan curious: What could have pushed Caitlin to consider suicide? And why, when her parents seem so affectionate and supportive, was she so removed from them?

An answer of sorts arrives when police show up at the hospital. They’ve heard a report that Caitlin was involved in an altercation before her fall, and they suspect that she did not jump but was pushed. Their arrival is followed by the appearance of a mysterious, brooding man who visits Caitlin’s bedside but does not sign the hospital guest book or bring the usual flowers and other well wishes. Is he a scorned lover, an ex-boyfriend, or the man from the bridge, checking to see if he finished the job? The ambiguities of Caitlin’s case echo those of Meghan’s failed marriage, as well as a recent rash of attacks on women in Meghan’s neighborhood. It seems that all around her are bad men and damaged women.

In her personal life, Meghan has recently reconnected with a high school classmate who is also navigating a divorce. But while Meghan has more or less emerged on the other side as a happy and successful single mother, Natalie Cohen is struggling. Nat often appears at their meetups with bruises and scared looks, and she even admits to Meghan that she believes her ex is stalking her.

Three mysteries, countless hurt women and an undercurrent of misogynistic violence put Meghan on edge and make her wonder if anyone is who they seem. With a murder investigation unfolding in her hospital, her own household still fighting to emerge from the divorce strong and stable, and Nat becoming increasingly paranoid and unstable, Meghan can’t help but wonder if she will ever feel secure as a woman, or if her teenage daughter will ever be safe in their own home.

Of course, all of this pales in comparison to what really happened on the bridge that night. As Meghan’s friendship with Nat becomes increasingly codependent, her daughter begins to act out, and Caitlin’s recovery takes a turn, it becomes obvious that there is much more to all three cases. But how can Meghan, so deeply traumatized by her own sister’s suicide and her growing fears, get to the bottom of it all? And who can she trust when everyone --- from her ex-husband to her new friend and even poor Caitlin’s parents --- seems to be hiding something?

Mary Kubica returns to the model that has earned her great acclaim: a propulsive, ripped-from-the-headlines plotline that is both grounded and bolstered by her keenly written, compassionately drawn characters…wrapped in an explosive twist. She is at the top of her game here, and though she does serious work unpacking the ambiguities and nuances of domestic abuse, female friendships and an impossible fight for justice, she also writes a deliciously good thriller. Her main character, Meghan, is one of her best to date: flawed but with a strong, reliable moral compass.

SHE’S NOT SORRY is sure to be a hit among Kubica’s fans, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see book clubs pick this one up. It has plenty of connections to current events, and readers will love debating Meghan’s actions as she both tries to help her friend and figure out what really happened to Caitlin. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t always agree with her. After all, no one is ever who they seem when Mary Kubica is writing them.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on April 20, 2024

She's Not Sorry
by Mary Kubica