Title: The Missing Pieces of Me (review copy)
Author: Amanda Mandeville
Genre: Drama, Contemporary
Blurb from Goodreads
Willow and Dustin. They’re the perfect couple, everyone says so. And since the birth of their baby daughter, Dustin is sure his little family is all he will ever need.
So his world is shattered when he arrives home to find that Willow has disappeared, leaving only a cryptic note to say goodbye with no explanation of where she has gone or why she has left.
Determined to bring her home, Dustin sets out to find Willow. But the more he learns about the girl he loves most in the world, the more he feels like he’s trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces.
Was Willow really keeping secrets from him?
Or was he just not looking closely enough in the first place?
I was really intrigued by the premise of this book; a young man named Dustin returns home to the apartment he shared with his girlfriend Willow and their baby girl Zara to find no sign of his girlfriend save for a dear john letter and little Zara left all alone.
The book uses a dual perspective to tell the story. Dustin in the present time post Willow’s disappearance. And Willow’s in the past starting just when she meets Dustin.
And for the first 40% or so I was kept interested by the storyline. It was easy to empathise with Dustin and the loss of all he knew in the present timeline as he struggled to cope with Willow’s disappearance and with trying to be a single dad. And then the past PoV from Willow’s perspective really helped to illustrate how little Dustin actually knew about Willow. How she had been dealing with a lot of emotional turmoil.
One thing that I did note early on was how I felt that the meeting point and subsequent development of a romantic relationship between Willow and Dustin felt very underwritten to me. It was really a case of here are two characters and we as readers were just told that they loved each other rather than truly feeling that deep emotion that they allegedly had for each other.
But the plot was compelling and I was very keen to find out what it was that caused Willow to walk out on her family… but then the plot kept going on on a repetitive style fashion, kept teasing the background story reveal and I got so tired of it! I felt that the story was strung out for far too long and that it took much longer than necessary for the past storyline perspective to finally reach the point of when Willow disappeared. And then when it did happen… underdeveloped again!
This book suffered from a lot of underdeveloped ideas in my opinion.
To cope with being a single dad and dealing with Willow’s disappearance Dustin moved back home to live with his mother and sister. And many times in the book his father was alluded to in a negative manner..but we never were given clear insight as to why. Dustin’s mother frequently acted entirely irrationally with an almost pantomime-esque villain vibe… again underdeveloped, unexplained and frustrating! She was barely more than a stereotype instead of being a complex character with clear and authentic motivations. Instead she was written as a convenient plot device to create drama and tension.
And can we just lol at Dustin’s sister Alicia, the older boyfriend and the daddy issues that are only hinted at… hello another lazy stereotype! *eye roll*
Things weren’t much better on Willow’s side of the story. Her granny was flat as a pancake! No depth to her character outside of she was nice and liked to knit… And the background story to her parents that was eventually revealed during the book’s climax… so melodramatic and downright ridiculous!
If this book had been written with more gravitas and emotion then maybe it wouldn’t have felt like a salacious soap opera… but the writing was prosaic at best, the characters mere pastiches and the storyline was sensationalist without any real heart.
Overall not my cup of tea
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
This edition publishing 20th August 2020, Little Brown Book Group