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Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Woman in the Window: A Novel

Funny story about getting this book. At last year's Book Expo, I was super pregnant. No exaggeration -- I was 36 weeks and exhausted. I was also in a great deal of pain, as I had SPD and my pelvis was separating. I pushed through because BOOKS, but there was one  book I didn't get. I just couldn't stay another 45 minutes for the book drop. This was A.J. Finn's The Woman in the Window.

Anna Fox's life has fallen apart. She is a shut in as a result of agoraphobia, the result of a trauma she is reluctant to speak of. Her husband and young daughter have left her home, and she spends her days on a support chatroom, watching her neighbors through the window, and drinking inordinate amounts of wine. It's the only way she can cope with her PTSD. New neighbors move in across the street, and they quickly become a part of Anna's life, both through the window and in her own home. The young boy is clearly frightened, the wife is jovial and friendly, and the husband is an enigma. When Anna sees a murder in their from her window, she seeks help, only to discover that no one believes her, and the woman she saw killed does not exist outside of Anna meeting her. Is Anna's PTSD causing her to invent stories to work through her own trauma - or is something more deeply sinister occurring in her neighborhood?

It is no exaggeration to say that I whipped through this book faster than I ever imagined I could. I thought it was going to take me a few days, as it's not a short book, but I could not put it down. I found myself with my Kindle in my hand for hours at a time, grabbing a page here and a page there. When I got to the last few chapters, I threatened to stab my husband if he interrupted me one more time, because I was at the climax and I was genuinely stunned at what I was reading. This book was absolutely incredible and I highly recommend it.

When you read enough crime stories you start to be able to figure out who did it and the twists that are coming, and I was absolutely stunned that I couldn't guess what was going on in this story. It was mind-boggling in that I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out the twist. When it happened, I gasped out loud. It was crazy and completely unexpected, yet absolutely perfect for the story. I wish I could say more, but I can't because the reward in the end is well worth not knowing much more.

I also have to say that Anna has stayed with me. Finn has created a deeply empathetic character who was easy to relate to. Not just because she was a psychologist in her past life (pre-agoraphobia), but also because she was a broken woman who didn't hide her brokenness. She was able to help others through her connection to them in the online chatroom, but she couldn't help herself. She willfully ignored her psychiatrists' prescriptions and drank like a fish to cope with the result of events that were both in and out of her control. She wasn't a weak character at all; she was just broken and she recognized that she was broken. She was full and alive, and while the story was gripping, Anna was the triumph of this story.

This was a book that I couldn't recommend more, except to maybe my mother because she hates what she calls my "murder and mayhem." Everyone else, grab this one because it is outstanding. I am so glad that I was able to borrow this from the library and entertain myself over the course of a couple of days. Go ahead - treat yourself. 

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