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Monday, January 13, 2014

In the Blood: A Novel

Lisa Unger's In the Blood sounded intriguing, so I picked it up. I was knocked off my feet just a few pages in and was addicted right away.

Lana has a secret. One held so deep down inside that it transforms her as a person, so much so that at times she is unclear about what is the truth and what is a lie. When she takes a job as a babysitter during her college days for a troubled boy, Luke, who is a student at the local school for difficult children. Before she knows it, Lana is mixed up in a sinister scavenger hunt designed by Luke that will lead her to face her demons and find that there are even more than she could ever imagine.

Lana plays chess often with Luke, and the chess board is a perfect metaphor for this story. It is a calculated game of smarts, where you never really know who is winning until someone calls "check." Even then it's not the end--can you outrun your opponent? For some there is a fine line between fact and fiction, but this story isn't one of them. Lana is clearly hiding her past to not be defined by it, but living a lie is ultimately what owns her in the end.

I was completely taken aback when I put the puzzle pieces together; all of the sudden down became up and left became right. I absolutely loved that about this book--that you are following along on what seems to be a clear storyline until you ultimately realize you aren't. Nothing is as it seems. Unger pulls away layers of the story like an onion, just waiting until you think you are with her to reveal one more piece of the story that it turns out you desperately need to know. Lana feels that the Matryoshka dolls, the Russian nesting dolls, are the perfect metaphor for her own life. She is right. They are also the perfect metaphor for this intricately woven thriller.

At one point I felt as though this story was a little fantastical, far from reality. There is no way this could happen. But then again, truth is stranger than fiction. Either way, I realized as I was racing through the book that I didn't much care about realism, that I was enjoying the spiderweb of a story too much to be concerned about how real this could be. There was enough realism in the desire to move away and start over with a new identity. Haven't we all, at one point or another, wanted this? And in the end, aren't we all hiding pieces of ourselves?

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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