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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Unraveling Oliver: A Novel

Liz Nugent's Unraveling Oliver was a huge get at Book Expo this year. I was super excited to get my hands on it, and Liz Nugent was crazy nice and genuinely happy people were excited about her novel. I downed this whole book in about five hours. I couldn't put it down. 

Oliver Ryan is a famous children's book author who is beloved around the world and in his own circles. Until, that is, the night that he beats his wife into a coma. Who is Oliver Ryan? No one really seems to know. Told in multiple perspectives by those in the couple's lives, the whole picture of who this man is, what motivates him, and what his past looks like starts to come into focus. It turns out that not everyone is what they seem. 

When I tell you that I couldn't put this book down, I truly mean that. I had many things to do before the baby came, but instead I needed to keep reading to find out what the bloody hell was going on. And not just the next chapter -- I needed to gulp down the whole book or else I would lose my mind not knowing the truth. One review on the back of the advanced readers copy called this genre "grip lit," and I had never heard that term before, yet it seems to be entirely accurate for this novel. I was completely gripped and held in a stranglehold by Nugent and her characters. Their stories were astounding and honest, so real that this book blurred the lines between fiction and reality. While Oliver Ryan may not be a real , living and breathing person in Ireland, facsimiles of him exist in the world. Men who are willing to casually and callously use what opportunities come their way to walk over whomever they can. 

This novel did a truly outstanding job of creating twists and turns in the story that I didn't see coming. They were more revelatory than they were shocking, and it worked for this story, which was completely driven by the characters and their complicated, twisted involvement with one another whether they knew it or not. Whether it was coming to grips with Oliver's family or finally understanding the true betrayal of the book, there was always another shocker that was more of a slow burn than a heart-stopping sensation. It was incredible to read, and well worth the accolades coming Nugents' way when this book is released. I tore through this novel, and you will too. Just be sure you don't have to be anywhere -- you will be late. 

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