Book Reviews

Book Review: The Man I Thought You Were

The Man I Thought You Were, by Leah Mercer

Publication: Lake Union Publishing; July 25, 2017

the man i thoughtAbout the book: 

One fine autumn evening, Anna returns from work and starts making dinner, eager to welcome home her husband, Mark. It’s just like any other day in their ten-year, Pinterest-perfect marriage—until he says he’s leaving her.

Discovering that the man she thought she knew better than anyone else is capable of abandoning it all sends Anna reeling. She believed the life they’d built together—and the bright future they’d imagined—counted for everything. How can he walk away?

The truth is Mark is battling secrets of his own—secrets Anna knows nothing about. A painful past and an uncertain future threaten to bring his life down around him—and he’ll do anything not to expose her to that.

But unraveling the past is lonelier than Mark could ever have imagined and, as the days turn to months, Anna worries the separation will break them forever. Can she bring him back from the brink of self-destruction before it’s too late, or will she discover that she never really knew him at all?

My Review:

Well, for the second time this week I’ve managed to expose myself to an utterly heart breaking novel! When I started reading The Man I Thought You Were on this cold, rainy morning, I had no idea what to expect. First, it was a beautifully written, emotional, and captivating novel. Second, Leah Mercer’s characterization was impeccable and raw and just drew me in. Lastly, it left me so sad!!!

I’ve said this before about other novels, but this will be a very challenging review in order to avoid spoilers. I didn’t know exactly what to expect except that Anna and Mark were disgustingly, happily married – which they were. Imagine the perfect little couple snuggling on the couch reading, watching movies, cooking and enjoying dinner, and so forth. That was them. Until the day Mark came home from work and brutally announced that he was leaving her. 

Across town, Anna’s sister Sophie is having a very difficult time with her marriage. Her husband Asher is constantly gone, leaving her to care for their young daughter and also run the business she does from home. Between these two sisters, they are having an indescribably bad time with the men in their life. Anyhow, Anna is floored by Mark’s leaving so she starts trying to figure out what happened. She looks through his phone, e-mails, etc. but comes up with nothing – until she gets a call on his cell phone – and then she has a small something to go on. 

Also told from Mark’s point of view (although he doesn’t get a chapter in the first 1/4 or so of the novel), the author slowly unravels Mark’s tragically sad past, the cause of his estrangement from his family, as well as, his current struggles in the present. However, this also is the beginning of my wanting to strangle, smack, hit Mark repeatedly. Burdened with past and present demons, Mark chooses to be alone rather than hurt Anna. Hello?? You hurt her by leaving you fool!

Again, I can’t say much more without spoiling the numerous surprises that this novel holds. Although very sad at times, this novel is also about family, forgiveness, and most importantly – communication. It’s a reminder not to dwell on the past and embrace the ones you love now. There is a lot of love in this novel, although I don’t feel like it was always represented in a healthy, happy light, but there is also some seriousness sadness. I didn’t have to pull out the Kleenex but I think that’s just because I became so frustrated with Mark and his stubbornness. 

The Man I Thought You Were truly is a beautiful novel about love, acceptance, and what a person will do when faced with adversity. This one isn’t going to leave you smiling and dancing, but the author’s writing and characterization are enough for me to highly recommend picking this one up. Mercer is a captivating storyteller regardless of the mood and tone. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

Purchase The Man I Thought You Were on Amazon.

Learn more about author Leah Mercer.


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