Review: The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Release Date: May 19th 2016
Published By: Bloomsbury
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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

Review: Late into the night on New Year’s Eve 1986 a sleeping 4 year old Turtle (real name Tabitha) was kidnapped from the basement of her home where she slept with her 7 year old sister Sam and Sam’s best friend Remy whilst the neighbourhood adults partied upstairs. Sam and Remy pretended to be asleep but saw the man in the Santa costume come into the basement and grab Turtle. And yes I will admit that the similarities to the JonBenet Ramsay case did come to mind when I was reading this.

Sam and Remy identify Steven, Sam’s older sister Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend as the kidnapper. He is arrested, tried and convicted and receives the death penalty.

10 years late, another young girl has been taken on Christmas Eve from outside her church near where Sam’s family are now living and on Christmas Day a photo of Turtle asleep in her bed before she was taken turns up on their front door step. Sam (now 17) begins to wonder if Steven really did take Turtle or was she mistaken all those years ago and the true crime novel that was written about the case doesn’t help. There are many people who believe Steven is innocent.

Sam’s dad loses his job and due to financial hardships the family have no choice but to return to live in the house they’re in so they move back to the house Turtle was taken from. The family have come to believe Turtle is dead and all are dealing/struggling with this in their own way. Sam now has a new 4 year old sister Hannah who their mother has thrown into the beauty pageant circuit and has become obsessed with. Her sister Gretchen, although married has also moved back to town to help her best friend care for her sick father. Due to a 10 year age gap, Sam and Gretchen have never really been close, and seem to be even more distant from each other now.

As it is summertime, Remy is busy with his friends and girlfriend and Sam no longer knows anybody in the town she is given a job cleaning out the basement of Remy’s house where his grandmother had been living. Remy’s grandmother was a hoarder and was also believed to be paranoid as she claimed somebody was watching her sleep at night. As Sam starts sorting through her things she finds old photos and memories start to come back to her.

There is a bit of romance in this book as Remy and Sam start to get to know each other again and both come to terms with what happened the night Turtle was taken. Did they really tell the truth about what they saw that night?

The book jumps between 1986 and 1996 as it gives the back story of what was happening in Sam’s life around the time Turtle was taken and also what is happening now.

As I quite like thrillers I did enjoy this book, I even finished it in one day as it truly drew me in. I must confess that I did have suspicions early on what the outcome was going to be but even still I enjoyed the way it ended although maybe a bit rushed.


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