Book Talk: ONE MORE DAY by Kelly Simmons

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers. All opinions are my own.

Book Talk: ONE MORE DAY by Kelly SimmonsOne More Day
Written by Kelly Simmons
Published by Sourcebooks on February 2nd 2016
ISBN: 9781492618645
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Family Life
Format: ARC
Pages: 320

A missing son returns, only to vanish again within 24 hours. Can a secret from his mother's past unlock the mystery of his disappearance?

When Carrie Morgan's young son is snatched from the backseat of her car, she prays for one more day with him. Months later, she comes home to find Ben safe and sound in his crib. But the next day he's gone again, and the police suspect her involvement. Carrie is convinced that Ben is dead and that his brief return was a miracle sent to help her move on. Her husband, however, fears that she is descending into madness.

Over the course of the next week, more dead people from Carrie's past return, each for their own reason, and all involving a dark secret. Carrie will have to choose between how badly she wants to discover what happened to Ben, and how much of her past to reveal…

An advance copy of this book was provided by Shelf Awareness to facilitate a compensated review. Because the submission deadline was missed, this review has not been previously published and was not compensated.


The following contains potential spoilers for the novel One More Day by Kelly Simmons.

I rarely post book reviews here pre-publication, which has given me a few weeks to try to get a handle on my thoughts about Kelly Simmons’ novel One More Day…and I’m really not quite there yet, so I’m going to change up my approach a bit by borrowing  from the “bullet review” format my friend Beth Fish Reads sometimes uses.

  • What’s it about? All Carrie Morgan prayed for was one more day with her toddler son, Ben, snatched from her car while she was arguing with a meter maid. Months later, her prayer is answered. The day after that, Ben’s body is found in a nearby pond, and the police suspect Carrie knows more than she’s telling. They’re not wrong. Carrie has secrets. View Spoiler »

 

  • What worked for me? This is the first novel I’ve read by Kelly Simmons, although I have her previous book. The Bird House, in my Kindle TBR. (Simmons is also a friend of Beth Kephart‘s, which is, frankly, all the recommendation I need to check out a new-to-me author; Beth has already shared her thoughts on this novel.) Simmons does an effective job of building and sustaining suspense throughout One More Day. Secrets are revealed, but they’re just as likely to raise new questions as they are to answer existing ones. While Carrie’s is the primary narrative perspective, the viewpoint occasionally shifts to her husband John; there are also observations from a character who goes unidentified until late in the story, and I found the reliability of every one of these narrators questionable, at the very least. Carrie’s religious beliefs and behaviors–and John’s lack of them–are a significant element in her character, and the related exploration of faith is a central theme of One More Day. Mental health/mental illness is another key theme, and as it plays out in the novel, one not entirely unrelated to the faith/belief thread

 

  • What didn’t I like? There are aspects of One More Day, and of Carrie in particular, that explore the paranormal, and they didn’t always work for me. They did enhance the suspense, but there were times I felt they added more confusion than clarity to the story, suggesting it might take directions that it ultimately didn’t–and I’m honestly still trying to figure a couple of them out. And for me, the ending was a letdown–I won’t reveal why, but I just didn’t think it was  earned. (If you’ve read One More Day, let’s talk about that–I’d love to know if it’s just me!)

 

  • Recommended? Despite my issues, yes. I think I’d have liked One More Day more if it had played it straighter with the mystery, but for the most part, the mystery elements are well-done, and Simmons’ writing kept me engaged all the way through the novel.

 

From Chapter One:

“Carrie Morgan’s kidnapped son came back while she was at church.

“Later, when she told a few fellow Episcopalians in Bronwyn, Pennsylvania about the miracle–and she would, eventually, be brave enough to tell the whole story to a few new friends–they would point to this salient fact, gently insisting it was the linchpin. The cause, the effect. As if her faith had conjured a delicate simulacrum of her baby, truly ephemeral, wafer thin. She was taken aback by their steadfast view, the quietest version of fervor she’d ever witnessed. Most of the WASPS she knew–her mother, her in-laws–seemed able to take or leave their religion, abandoning it in favor of science, suspending church attendance for golf season. Or, as her Gran used to say, as income rises, faith falls.”

 

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2 comments

  1. I do like unreliable narrators but I’m not sure I’d like the paranormal aspect of the book.