this is not over by holly brown

THIS IS NOT OVER by Holly Brown [Book Thoughts]

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

This Is Not Over
Written by Holly Brown
Published by William Morrow, HarperCollins on January 17th 2017
ISBN: 9780062456830
Genres: Fiction, Suspense
Format: ARC
Pages: 400
Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers

When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see beneath—to how she grew up, to what she’s always tried to outrun. She revels in her getaways with her perfect (maybe too perfect) husband, the occasional long weekend in luxurious homes, temporarily inhabiting other people’s privileged lives. Miranda’s email strikes a nerve, with its lying intimation that Dawn is so dirty you need to throw out her sheets.


57-year-old Miranda thought she’d seen it all, but she can’t believe her eyes when she reads Dawn’s review. She’s a doctor’s wife but she needs that rental money, desperately. People might think her life is privileged, but they don’t know what’s really going on. They don’t know about her son. She won’t take this threat to her livelihood—to her very life—lying down.

Two very different women with this in common: Each harbors her own secret, her own reason why she can’t just let this go. Neither can yield, not before they’ve dredged up all that’s hidden, even if it has the power to shatter all they’ve built.

This is not over.
This is so not over.

THIS IS NOT OVER by Holly Brown explores the risks on both sides of the transaction when one stranger rents her home to another.

A version of this review was previously published in Shelf Awareness for Readers (February 3, 2017). Shelf Awareness provided a publisher’s galley to facilitate the review and paid for the review they received.

Despite a local law against short-term rentals, Miranda has been listing her parents’ old Santa Monica beach house on, and she had no trouble with any of her guests before Dawn and Rob. The couple, for their part, has been enjoying their stays in other people’s luxurious homes and never had problems with a host until now.

When Miranda withholds Dawn’s deposit due to damages that Dawn swears she didn’t cause, the accusation triggers her insecurities and raises her defenses. Defensiveness puts Dawn on the attack. She posts a negative review of Miranda and the property on; then it’s Miranda’s turn to defend herself, pressuring Dawn to take it down. Miranda needs good reviews to keep the rental occupied, and she needs it occupied so she can continue secretly funneling money to her son, a drug addict who swears he’s clean but whose father has refused to support him anymore.

Switching perspective back and forth between Dawn and Miranda, Brown gradually reveals elements of their personal histories that give context to the escalating battle between them. Both women are trying to keep troubled pasts under wraps, but as the dispute over the rental house gets under their skins, their self-protective images start coming apart. This Is Not Over also comes apart a bit in the end, but it’s a suspenseful psychological drama along the way–one that might make you think twice about lining up that online rental for your next vacation.


THIS IS NOT OVER – From Chapter One:

“Please note: It is April 23, 2014. You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the sheets. I couldn’t get the stain out despite professional laundering and bleaching, and it was rather large (gray, about the size and shape of a typical housecat, though the house rental didn’t allow pets.) That’s neither here nor there. At any rate, I already told you about this.


That’s it, the entire e-mail. No Dear Dawn or I’m sorry you had to stalk me to get your deposit or Sincerely or All the best. Just Miranda. And does she really think I don’t know today’s date?

I haven’t felt anger like this in I don’t know how long. No, I know how long. Since before Rob. He’s the antidote for all my inadequacies. I’m good enough because I have him in my life. Because I’m the woman he loves. I’m that woman now.

Stop reading. Stop rereading.

But I can’t.

I’m sitting at my battle-scarred kitchen table, staring at the screen of my five-year-old laptop in my one-bedroom apartment in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Oakland (soon we’ll be priced out), and I’ve been struck dumb. A stain the size and shape of a housecat? Like my husband and I are, collectively, Pigpen from Peanuts, and we leave a cloud of ash in our wake?

I’m an honorable (enough) person, and for sure, Rob is. If we’d ruined Miranda’s sheets, we would’ve owned up to it. I would’ve contacted her myself, apologized profusely and said, “Take my deposit, please.” No, I would have bleached the sheets, and if that hadn’t worked, I would have run out to the nearest Target in a state of abject mortification and bought a new set (because those were not $200 sheets, I promise you that.) 

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