Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Book Review: Did I Say You Could Go by Melanie Gideon

Oh, boy. When I first saw this cover and read the title, I KNEW I needed to read this one! Scroll down for my complete review.

Did I Say You Could Go

by Melanie Gideon

Published by Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: August 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1982142124

Description from the Publisher: 

A suspenseful, gripping novel about families and friendships torn apart at the seams by obsession, secrets, and betrayal with relentless twists and turns that hurtle forward to a shocking confrontation.

When Ruth, a wealthy divorcĂ©​e, offers to host the Hillside Academy kindergarten meet-and-greet, she hopes this will be a fresh start for her and her introverted daughter, Marley. Finally, they’ll be accepted into a tribe. Marley will make friends and Ruth will be welcomed by the mothers. Instead, the parents are turned off by Ruth’s ostentatious wealth and before kindergarten even begins, Ruth and Marley are outcasts.

The last guest to arrive at the meet-and-greet is Gemma, a widow and a single mother to her daughter, Bee. Ruth sets her sights on the mother-daughter duo, and soon the two families are inseparable. Ruth takes Gemma and Bee on Aspen vacations, offers VIP passes to Cirque du Soleil, and pays for dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants. For Gemma, who lives paycheck to paycheck, Ruth’s largesse is seductive, but as the years go by, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s accruing an increasingly unpayable debt. When Ruth’s affair with a married Hillside dad is exposed, and she’s publicly shunned, Gemma uses it to sever ties with Ruth.

Six years later, when Gemma finds herself embroiled in a scandal of her own—Ruth comes to her defense. Their renewed friendship rehabilitates their reputations, but once again, Gemma starts to feel trapped as Ruth grows more and more obsessed with their relationship.

A relentless page-turner, Did I Say You Could Go is the story of friendships steeped in lies and duplicity. It’s about two families who, when pushed to extremes, cross the line with devastating results.

About the Author: 

Melanie Gideon is the NYT bestselling author of the memoir, The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After, as well as the novels Wife 22, Valley of the Moon, and Did I Say You Could Go. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She lives in the Bay Area.

My Review:

Without even reading the description, I knew this was a book for me. That cover. That title. SO CREEPY! This was the first book by Melanie Gideon that I’ve read, and she exceeded my expectations. 

Did I Say You Could Go by Melanie Gideon grabbed my attention on page one and kept me reading faster and faster to find out what was going to happen next.

As an avid thriller reader, many of the twists and turns did not surprise me, but I never felt disappointed with any of the reveals. Gideon masterfully weaved the web, trapped my attention, and slowly unwound the various plot elements. Before I knew it, the story was over, and I was satisfied with all of the revelations and conclusions of the mysteries and character arcs.

I expected the story to be told from the two adult women’s points-of-view, but I was taken by surprise when the narrative switched to the teenage daughters’ points-of-view also. As a frequent reader of young adult literature, the teenage POVs felt forced with lines like, “All of them have pubes, one of them has been fingered, and most of them have their periods.” Yikes. So, needless to say, it was weird, but the teenage POVs settled into their own grooves and felt less forced as the story progressed. 

Additionally, there were several elements that pulled me from the world of the story. First, while it was told in a linear fashion, there were a lot of awkward flashbacks that felt forced. Second, I found it extremely hard to believe that Gemma would just let Ruth buy her a new car. Third, there were so many trendy pop culture references, such as: "'I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in Lulu,' says Madison. Actually, Ruth’s in Stella McCartney, but she isn’t about to reveal that to Madison. Labels are nothing to brag about – that’s what her mother always said."

Nonetheless, Did I Say You Could Go was loaded with excellent twists and jaw-dropping moments.

I won't spoil any of them for you, but trust me, there are some good ones.

Some favorite lines from the story:

“Gemma’s face looks melted, like candle wax just before it hardens.”

“She is so endlessly interesting to him – it makes her heart hurt. She is endlessly interesting to her mother, too, but in a completely different way. Her father’s love is a hummingbird. Her mother’s is a hawk.”

[I received an early copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

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