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The Missing Hours


The Missing Hours

Claudia Castro was supposed to be in the delivery room with her sister, Edie, as she was giving birth to her first child. But when the baby is born, Claudia is nowhere to be found. She is completely unreachable, and her most recent posts involve a staycation.

Claudia, along with readers, must puzzle through those missing hours to discover what actually happened, what is true and what is false. Therefore, the chapters that are narrated by Claudia should come with an “unreliable narrator” sticker on them so we can try to make sense of the information we are about to receive. THE MISSING HOURS deals with some profoundly serious matters in a realistic way, which is one of Julia Dahl’s many strengths. She provides us with relatable, three-dimensional characters who act like we might act in most situations.

"THE MISSING HOURS takes us up and down the emotional ladder with a stop at each rung, where we are privy to everything going through Claudia’s mind."

The issues with Claudia’s memory can be found in the novel’s first line: “The details of whatever happened were gone from her mind but present all over her body.” Her friend, Trevor, tries to ease her feelings of guilt about missing the birth of her niece by reminding her that she had lost her phone and Edie would forgive her. To try and begin to understand Claudia, you have to go back to the beginning. We see her enjoy some fame as a teen singer who still has thousands of Instagram followers. She took that early success and her trust fund to NYU, where she is presently studying on campus and feeling newly born.

At the end of the first part of the novel, we see Claudia walking with friends in Manhattan and suddenly stopping to vomit. She then recalls what happened and how, even though her face has healed, what Chad and Jeremy did to her still infects her. Fans of ’60s British pop will giggle, as I did, as they recall Chad & Jeremy, a popular singing duo. Let’s just say that the Chad and Jeremy in THE MISSING HOURS are far less wholesome.

Edie is horrified when she sees a video of Claudia being attacked and raped by Chad and Jeremy. Trevor confronts Chad about what he did, which ends in a nice altercation. Later on, we get to see the situation from Chad’s perspective. To get inside the hormone-filled, slightly woman-hating mind that is Chad’s persona will make you feel uncomfortable, and it should. What he thinks about doing to Claudia and his intentions for these acts are crude and frightening.

THE MISSING HOURS takes us up and down the emotional ladder with a stop at each rung, where we are privy to everything going through Claudia’s mind. Being the victim of a violent act is a traumatic experience like no other and could take years for the mind to process. That we get to witness Claudia in the exceedingly initial stages of this memory is what keeps the book humming with life and unpredictable throughout.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on October 1, 2021

The Missing Hours
by Julia Dahl

  • Publication Date: February 28, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250083745
  • ISBN-13: 9781250083746