When I You,
by Amber Garza
Publication: MIRA; August 25, 2020
About: It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly’s never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.
For days, Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.
Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose—taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.
Holy hell! What did I just read? When I Was You is the latest novel from author Amber Garza and oh my goodness, what a wild ride! Empty nester Kelly Medina gets a phone call one morning confirming her baby’s doctor appointment, but when she informs the receptionist that she is about nineteen years too late, she realizes that there is another woman living in her town with the exact same name and a young baby. After that call, however, Kelly can’t stop thinking about the other Kelly and wondering what her life is like. Kelly’s son had left for college a year earlier and she found herself longing for those times when he was still at home. As Kelly pushes the other Kelly into a somewhat uncomfortable friendship, things continue to just get stranger and it seems that the older Kelly is becoming obsessed with the younger Kelly’s life and her son, Sullivan.
I’ll start with my only criticism of this novel and that is that things sort of dragged for me at first. Don’t get me wrong, after just a few pages things start getting creepy and cringe-worthy, but things seemed a little slow. But then everything starts to pick up.
Amber Garza perfectly weaved doubt and questions in my head for the entire novel. I wasn’t sure if Kelly was having some sort of breakdown or what was going on. Her behavior was odd at best, her best friend Christine seemed to hover with her gentle questioning about Kelly being o.k., and Kelly’s husband Rafael hinted repeatedly that he was concerned about her mental health. Carefully placed clues and hints were scattered around, but I was burning up the pages to find out what happened in their lives. I wasn’t sure who was real or imaginary. I wondered if there had been some traumatic event. Honestly, I just had no clue what the hell was going on. And that is why this book is so good.
When I Was You embodies all of the things that make thrillers so wonderful. Doubt is planted immediately, you don’t know who to trust, and you have no idea what will happen next. The big turn of events at around the 65% mark is probably one of the biggest surprises that I have read in a long time, but even better was that the plot continued to surprise me over and over again until the end. I cannot believe I let this gem sit on my iPad for so long without reading it. The book is completely amazing and I highly recommend grabbing it as soon as you can!
*Thanks to NetGalley and MIRA for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!