When I Was You,
by Minka Kent
Publication: Thomas & Mercer; February 1, 2020
After barely surviving a brutal attack, Brienne Dougray rarely leaves her house. Suffering from debilitating headaches and memory loss, she can rely only on her compassionate new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin, a welcome distraction from the discomfiting bubble that has become her existence.
But Brienne’s growing confidence in her new routine is shaken when she stumbles across unsettling evidence that someone else is living as…her. Same name. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. She’s even friended her family on social media. To find out why Brienne must leave the safety of her home to hunt a familiar stranger.
What she discovers is more disturbing than she could have ever imagined. With her fragile mind close to shattering, Brienne is prepared to do anything to reclaim her life. If it’s even hers to reclaim.
This latest thriller from author Minka Kent is about a wealthy, woman, Brienne Dougray, who after suffering a brutal attack months earlier, rarely leaves her home or communicates with anyone. After her friends dropped off the radar and out of her life, the only people that she communicates with are her roommate, Dr. Niall Emberlin and her elderly neighbor, Edna. Sadly, she spends her days sitting on the porch watching neighbors walk by, struggling over whether to feed a stray cat that keeps visiting, and cooking dinner in hopes that Niall will come home and want to eat with her. I understand the author’s need to paint a picture of what Brienne’s life has become since the attack, but this part is quite boring. But hang in there, it picks up.
One day, Brienne receives a key and paperwork for a new apartment that is being leased, and it is addressed to her. After calling the number on the paperwork and learning that someone with the same name as her has rented the apartment, she wonders if it could be connected to her attack months earlier, where the attacker was never identified. Brienne’s previously boring days now center around finding this person and trying to understand why they have the same name, look alike, dress alike, and even drive the same car.
About 1/3 or so into the novel, the reader starts getting Niall’s POV, along with Brienne’s. Everything was really weird and creepy until we get Niall’s voice, then it just becomes a big, old crazy mess – but in a good way. At first, I was finding this novel predictable, and although I was sort of correct on the overall premise, the author kept surprising me with numerous twists and turns.
However, and this is important, prepare to suspend some belief and prepare for some frustration! My biggest issue with this entire novel was Brienne not going to the police. This woman was randomly attacked in an alleyway and left for dead. Her attacker was never found. She spends a huge amount of time making sure doors and windows are locked. But… When she starts figuring out all of the craziness that is going on, she never goes to the police. Why??? Another huge frustration, which I won’t go into very much because of spoilers, concerns one of the secondary characters, Sam (Samantha). This woman supposedly has nooooo idea what’s going on throughout the entire novel, but that doesn’t make sense regarding the first time Brienne goes to see her “other self” at her office/workplace. Why didn’t they get to meet that day? And something else that drove me mad – the reasons Brienne’s friends hate her… How exactly did all of that go down?
Anyway, When I Was You focuses on a variety of issues, some that could be triggers, such as assault, dissociative disorder, anxiety, and identity theft. Yes, there are parts that are just too unbelievable, but this was still a page-turner for me. I started it while cooking dinner yesterday evening and didn’t go to sleep until I was finished. Minka Kent has created a very unique and entertaining plot in When I Was You. Even better, she is amazing at character development and being able to evoke a variety of emotions in the reader because of her characters’ actions. I always feel like an author needs high praise when they create characters that I absolutely despise, which she did with Niall. This is a good read that’s somewhat creepy, somewhat stressful, but very addictive.
*Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!