What My Body Remembers
From "New York Times" bestselling author Agnete Friis comes the chilling story of a young mother who will do whatever it takes to protect her son. Ella Nygaard, 27, has been a ward of the state since she was seven years old, the night her father murdered her mother. She doesn t remember anything about that night or her childhood before it but her body remembers. The PTSD-induced panic attacks she now suffers incapacitate her for hours sometimes days at a time and leave her physically and psychically drained. After one particularly bad episode lands Ella in a psych ward, she discovers her son, Alex, has been taken from her by the state and placed with a foster family. Driven by desperation, Ella kidnaps Alex and flees to the seaside town in northern Denmark where she was born. Her grandmother s abandoned house is in grave disrepair, but she can live there for free until she can figure out how to convince social services that despite everything, she is the best parent for her child. But being back in the small town forces Ella to confront the demons of her childhood the monsters her memory has tried so hard to obscure. What really happened that night her mother died? Was her grandmother right was Ella s father unjustly convicted? What other secrets were her parents hiding from each other? If Ella can start to remember, maybe her scars will begin to heal or maybe the truth will put her in even greater danger."

What My Body Remembers Details

TitleWhat My Body Remembers
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseMay 2nd, 2017
PublisherSoho Crime
ISBN161695602X
ISBN-139781616956028
Number of pages304 pages
Rating
GenreMystery, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

What My Body Remembers Review

  • Diane S ☔
    May 9, 2017
    Broken lives, broken people. Ella has been under state care since the age of seven when her father killed her mother. She was there, but remembers nothing of that time, and little from the time before. Her body though, does remember and she has severe PTSD, panic attacks that are crippling. She has a son now, a son she loves but is unable to handle a job, so, she receives money from the social services available. She drinks too much and is under the supervision of a social worker. When a severe Broken lives, broken people. Ella has been under state care since the age of seven when her father killed her mother. She was there, but remembers nothing of that time, and little from the time before. Her body though, does remember and she has severe PTSD, panic attacks that are crippling. She has a son now, a son she loves but is unable to handle a job, so, she receives money from the social services available. She drinks too much and is under the supervision of a social worker. When a severe attack hospitalizes her, the social services take her son, a son she recovers and then runs back to the town she is from. There she hopes to gain control of her life, she also begins to remember, pieces here and there.There was something about the atmosphere in this novel that I found captivating. Melancholy and almost haunting, this story is well written and well plotted. Although it is easy to dislike Ella and the things she does, I found myself rooting for her and her son, Alex. Suspenseful without being horribly graphic, was quite caught up in the story and once again did not guess the outcome. ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Lynsey Summers
    February 26, 2017
    The opening to this book was a little different to what I was expecting.  Usually you are given an explosive event or shocking revelation, but this opens with a very simple and frank conversation between two neighbours.  Two females.  It is muted, matter of fact and so completely puts you straight into the tone of the book it is very clever.So, what is the tone of the book?  Well, to be honest, it is pretty bleak.  Written in first person narrative by protagonist Ella, the reader quickly ascerta The opening to this book was a little different to what I was expecting.  Usually you are given an explosive event or shocking revelation, but this opens with a very simple and frank conversation between two neighbours.  Two females.  It is muted, matter of fact and so completely puts you straight into the tone of the book it is very clever.So, what is the tone of the book?  Well, to be honest, it is pretty bleak.  Written in first person narrative by protagonist Ella, the reader quickly ascertains that Ella and her son Alex live a pretty poor life, both financially and in quality.  Both Ella and Alex suffer from mental health issues, something Ella fights the state about with vengeance.  Ella's general outlook on life and other people is negative, she trusts in very little, but that is hardly surprising given the traumatic and fragmented up bringing she has endured.  When she moves back to where she grew up, she meets people from her past who seem to know more about her than she does; Thomas, her old school friend who obviously hasn't lost the flame he held for her, Baek-Nielson her grandmothers friend, Barbara who swears she will help her no matter how much she protests.  The author presents them well, I was not sure who could be trusted...Throughout we are taken on Ella's, reluctant, journey of discovery about what really happened in her childhood, particularly the night her mother died.  What I liked was there was no sudden changes in Ella's attitude, she didn't suddenly become an optimistic fighter, or into money.  She is forced to deal with her own past so that it doesn't affect her son's future, but even so, she does it all seriously dragging her feet and with limited means.In between the current day scenes with Ella, we are taken back to 1994, the year her father allegedly killed her mother.  Told from the viewpoint of both her father, Helgi, and mother, Anna, the reader learns the couple both had secrets and issues over the course of that year.  Using the three viewpoints the plot comes together well and at a steady pace.  Although I did put two and two together, it did not spoil the book for me and I enjoyed the way the author weaved and pulled all the ends together.  I loved the characters, they were very real and most importantly relevant to the plot.  At first, I did wonder whether some of the language used was a little too much, but actually considering it now, as I review the novel in it's entirety, no it wasn't.  The book is set to the theme of hardship and with that comes gritty realities that sometimes only profanity can truly help describe.  Although some of the characters and language may seem harsh, the overall emotion I got from them was actually compassion, I particularly thought this of Rosa.What My Body Remembers, for me, was a different kettle of fish to what I was expecting.  It is written through emotion rather than action.  It's themes ran strong and true from beginning right to end and the characters are really well developed and interesting.
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  • Abby (Crime by the Book)
    April 24, 2017
    Find my full review on Crime by the Book: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2017/4...This is book totally defied my expectations for it - but I wholly enjoyed it. It's nothing like your standard Nordic Noir: it doesn't have a police investigation at the center of it, and it's hardly a violent story. Instead, it's a slow-burning, atmospheric exploration of a young woman's past - and how she is still defined by the traumas from her youth. It's tense, emotional, and a truly unique little book!
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  • Terri Jacobson
    May 25, 2017
    Ella Nygaard is "on the dole" and living with her 11-year old son, Alex outside Copenhagen. Ella had a traumatic childhood--she witnessed her father killing her mother, though she has no memory of it. She spent her childhood in foster care homes. She has a long history of violence and antisocial behavior. Ella also has episodes of severe nervous reactions, and it's unknown if the diagnosis is neurological or psychological.As the story opens, Alex is taken from Ella to a foster home in the countr Ella Nygaard is "on the dole" and living with her 11-year old son, Alex outside Copenhagen. Ella had a traumatic childhood--she witnessed her father killing her mother, though she has no memory of it. She spent her childhood in foster care homes. She has a long history of violence and antisocial behavior. Ella also has episodes of severe nervous reactions, and it's unknown if the diagnosis is neurological or psychological.As the story opens, Alex is taken from Ella to a foster home in the country he is familiar with. In a panic, Ella kidnaps Alex and flees to her estranged grandmother's house in an isolated town in northern Denmark, Klitmøller. She is befriended by an artist, Barbara, who has a mysterious past. What My Body Remebers is the story of Ella as she begins to regain her childhood memories. The tale is told in 2 time frames: the present, with Ella and Alex; the past (1994), with Ella's parents.I really enjoyed this thriller from Danish author Agnete Friis. The writing is well above average and the story has many layers. It is paced nicely with several surprises. Friis is also author of the Nina Borg series, and I may be checking that out. An excellent reading experience.
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    April 15, 2017
    The night her father kills her mother, Ella is only seven years old and becomes part of the system. She acts out and becomes unexpectedly pregnant at a young age. Her post traumatic amnesia leads to severe panic attacks, leaving her in question with the state regarding her ability to take care of not only herself, but her son as well. When it becomes apparent that the state wants to take her son away, she takes matters into her own hands and runs away with him. Heading back to her grandmother's The night her father kills her mother, Ella is only seven years old and becomes part of the system. She acts out and becomes unexpectedly pregnant at a young age. Her post traumatic amnesia leads to severe panic attacks, leaving her in question with the state regarding her ability to take care of not only herself, but her son as well. When it becomes apparent that the state wants to take her son away, she takes matters into her own hands and runs away with him. Heading back to her grandmother's abandoned house, she's forced to confront the past she can't remember.This book is shown mostly through Ella's eyes with flashbacks through her parents (father, Helgi and mother, Anna) leading up to Anna's death. The author builds the story in an atmospherically beautiful and poignant way. We see the human struggle in all three characters - the marriage that falls apart, psychological damages that incur, a child's memory confused by her own immature mind. An absolutely gorgeous read. I guessed correctly at the ending and what was coming as it was happening, but it didn't take away from me loving the book any less. If you're looking for something fast paced and a twist that punches you in the face, this probably isn't quite the read you're looking for. However, if you're looking for a beautiful, atmospheric thriller that hits your emotional center, this is it. While the ending is not surprising, the author builds the entire story in a way that leaves you satisfied. Be warned that this story is bleak with an extremely flawed and unlikeable lead character. In fact, none of the characters are likeable - but they are real and raw and that's something I can absolutely appreciate in a well written book.
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  • Bridget
    April 3, 2017
    I so wanted to love this book, The Boy in the Suitcase is a book I loved to bits, I liked it because it was a different kind of mystery, one where I was guessing all the time, where I really liked the characters and where I really connected with the story. With this one though, I've just become really tired of it, I feel like I'm reading a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces, but with so many missing pieces I can't even get the edges done, let alone fill in the middle bits. At times the pace i I so wanted to love this book, The Boy in the Suitcase is a book I loved to bits, I liked it because it was a different kind of mystery, one where I was guessing all the time, where I really liked the characters and where I really connected with the story. With this one though, I've just become really tired of it, I feel like I'm reading a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces, but with so many missing pieces I can't even get the edges done, let alone fill in the middle bits. At times the pace is great and the story races along but at others, I feel like I'm reading a scene I've already read. The book was quite difficult to read because the formatting hadn't been completed in any way, lots of running words together, odd pagination and it was a long way from fully formed, but that doesn't usually worry me, this time because of the slow pace I found that it really did make it hard to read.Thanks to Netgalley for giving me access to this, I'm sorry I didn't love it more.
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  • Shirley Cagle
    March 28, 2017
    I like that this book is different, in that the protagonist is not particularly likeable or easy to understand. The bleak situation and setting mirror her mental state and her inner turmoil is completely understandable once you know the circumstances of her childhood. The story has some interesting plot twists and tension builds more quickly in the second half of the novel. Very well-crafted!
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  • Bonnie Brody
    May 9, 2017
    Ella Nygaard is 27 years old and has spent virtually all of her life as a ward of the state. When she was 7 years old, her father murdered her mother. Though Ella doesn't remember that night or anything about her life preceding the murder, she now suffers horrendous panic attacks that can last for days, has dissociative disorder and a horrible case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The most meaningful aspect of Ella's life is her son Alex, about ten years old.Ella was not always a compliant fos Ella Nygaard is 27 years old and has spent virtually all of her life as a ward of the state. When she was 7 years old, her father murdered her mother. Though Ella doesn't remember that night or anything about her life preceding the murder, she now suffers horrendous panic attacks that can last for days, has dissociative disorder and a horrible case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The most meaningful aspect of Ella's life is her son Alex, about ten years old.Ella was not always a compliant foster child. She is filled with rage and acts out oppositionally at every chance she gets. This creates a case of musical chairs where Ella goes from one home to the next, never truly connecting with any of the foster parents. The only person Ella feels a sense of closeness with is Kirstin, her social worker, as well as two neighbors in her low income housing building.As the novel opens, Alex is in foster care and Ella is distraught. "A life without Alex would be a life without me. He was the only one who saw me, and needed me." Ella decides to take Alex away from his foster family and gets her two friends to help with the kidnapping. Once she has Alex with her they head to Northern Denmark, to her paternal grandmother's home. Though it is dilapidated and falling down, it is still a home. It is there that Ella begins to explore her past, acknowledge that she had a childhood and lets memories slowly seep into her consciousness.This book is a scathing diatribe of a social system that works against a traumatized child rather than with her. She is punished for her symptoms and rewarded if she represses them. Ella is a very troubled woman but, with the right care and opportunities, she would be able to work out the secrets of her past that hold her back as an adult. As a clinical social worker myself, I can't help but think of how EMDR, Brainspotting, and other techniques could be of help to Ella. Processing her trauma in a trusting rather than punishing environment would be the most helpful way for Ella's secrets to reveal themselves.This novel by Agnette Friis is fluidly translated from the Danish by Lindy Falk Van Rooyen. It reads very smoothly without any awkwardness.
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  • Lori
    December 25, 2016
    Thanks to SoHo Crime publishers and Edelweiss-AboveTheTreeline for What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis. I received an ARC Kindle e-book edition at no cost.There are people in our world who have never experienced nightmares that come to life. Post-Traumatic Stress has become a buzz-phrase in society, that makes it seem a fad rather than a disease or ailment. Only recently people outside of War experience were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disease. Unlike a broken bone or paralysis, PT Thanks to SoHo Crime publishers and Edelweiss-AboveTheTreeline for What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis. I received an ARC Kindle e-book edition at no cost.There are people in our world who have never experienced nightmares that come to life. Post-Traumatic Stress has become a buzz-phrase in society, that makes it seem a fad rather than a disease or ailment. Only recently people outside of War experience were diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disease. Unlike a broken bone or paralysis, PTSD is a psychological manifestation of tragic or traumatic experiences. The effects are felt by a sufferer in different ways. There is little acknowledgment or treatment for deep trauma. Many sufferers end up self-medicating with alcohol and/or drugs. It is easy to judge others when we cannot see the deep poisonous pains that handicap their lives. This novel is about a remarkable woman; Ella Nygaard of Denmark. For twenty years she has done the best she can to keep some kind of life balance and provide a life for her adolescent son. The only family she knows or claims is her son. Every day is a struggle to keep enough balance to keep her son and a way to provide for them.At the age of seven Ella experienced a grisly nightmare which claimed the life of her mother. Her father went to prison. She cannot remember any of it. Ella experiences physical ailments called tremors when she dreams. Some of the memories start to come through and her body cannot take it. But science will not brand what she experiences as a disability. Their lives remain cataclysmic. Her only friends are also broken. Sober alcoholics who care about Ella and her son Alex. A series of events takes Ella back to the physical place where the nightmare began. Will this be the end of it all? Will Ella and Alex be able to stay together?Can there be any possible redemption or resolution? I will recommend this haunting novel for our library collection, and to other readers I know.
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  • Lea
    May 9, 2017
    Thank you Agnete Friis and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book as it was translated from Danish to English and I have always felt translation leaves a book disjointed, not the case for me here... The first few pages actually gripped me with both wit and humour that kept me to the end even though this book had a fair degree of sadness and tragedy to it. I enjoyed the characters and the way the story was written in two voices, joinin Thank you Agnete Friis and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book as it was translated from Danish to English and I have always felt translation leaves a book disjointed, not the case for me here... The first few pages actually gripped me with both wit and humour that kept me to the end even though this book had a fair degree of sadness and tragedy to it. I enjoyed the characters and the way the story was written in two voices, joining together to bring the story to its dramatic but for me predictable end. I found the last chapter a bit disappointing, I felt it was a rushed attempt to tie the ends.Surprisingly, an enjoyable read.
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  • Susan
    May 22, 2017
    I had some difficulty with this book early on but slowly got engaged, then very engaged. This is not our "usual" Nordic mystery or tale but rather a exploration of a woman's life - with her son, her friends, her social worker and all the parts of the community that are obligated to help a troubled soul - but often hinder rather than help. Ella Nygaard has been traumatized by her mother's murder, by her father, she believes but has no reliable memories of the murder, or of much of her early life. I had some difficulty with this book early on but slowly got engaged, then very engaged. This is not our "usual" Nordic mystery or tale but rather a exploration of a woman's life - with her son, her friends, her social worker and all the parts of the community that are obligated to help a troubled soul - but often hinder rather than help. Ella Nygaard has been traumatized by her mother's murder, by her father, she believes but has no reliable memories of the murder, or of much of her early life. She returns to the community where she was raised and slowly recovers her life. Engaging, intriguing.
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  • L A Andrews
    May 27, 2017
    ExcellentRead through in one sitting. Clues are fair and slow in coming. They allowed me to stay about a half step ahead of the revelations. Most satisfying.
  • Maureen
    May 24, 2017
    3.5
  • Amy
    March 20, 2017
    Ella is a well realized character -- deeply flawed yet sympathetic yet maddening. She refuses to acknowledge even the remotest possibility that her father is innocent, and yet she finds herself drawn to the question of how her mother died over and over. Looking for a lost friend, wondering about an abandoned house . . .I wouldn't call the ending shocking but moving along with Ella as she makes her own way to the truth feels well earned and satisfying.
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  • Martina
    March 18, 2017
    Friis, the co-author of the Nina Borg series, is coming out with her solo debut on May 2, 2017, from Soho Press. The Mystery Book Group really enjoyed The Boy in the Suitcase, the first of the Nina Borg books. Can't wait. We had a fabulous event with the two authors at the book store before their second book in the series was published.
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  • Sarah
    March 4, 2017
    Once I had started reading this book, I was unable to put it down. My ARC had a couple grammatical errors, due to translation issues I would guess, but they didn't detract from the story. The writing was such that I could clearly see everything in my mind. The characters are gritty and Agnete Friis does not look away from nor soften grim realities. I really enjoyed the unfolding of the story and the development seen in Ella and her son, Alex, over the course of the book. I like how as we follow Once I had started reading this book, I was unable to put it down. My ARC had a couple grammatical errors, due to translation issues I would guess, but they didn't detract from the story. The writing was such that I could clearly see everything in my mind. The characters are gritty and Agnete Friis does not look away from nor soften grim realities. I really enjoyed the unfolding of the story and the development seen in Ella and her son, Alex, over the course of the book. I like how as we follow Ella and Alex, interspersed are the points of view from the past of Helgi and Anna. Their tidbits highlight the interest and desire to know and understand more of what is going on in the present as well as increasing my interest in what happened in the past.
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  • Alison
    February 5, 2017
    I picked up an advance copy of this at a recent conference, breaking my usual rule do not taking any hard copies home (I always browse and add books to my list). This is the story of a woman whose father is convicted of killing her mother, and how what she saw that night, as a young girl, affects her life. She's a mess - a very young, single mom who spend her childhood bouncing between foster homes, can't keep a job, the whole nine yards. She starts to piece together what actually happened the n I picked up an advance copy of this at a recent conference, breaking my usual rule do not taking any hard copies home (I always browse and add books to my list). This is the story of a woman whose father is convicted of killing her mother, and how what she saw that night, as a young girl, affects her life. She's a mess - a very young, single mom who spend her childhood bouncing between foster homes, can't keep a job, the whole nine yards. She starts to piece together what actually happened the night her mother was killed, and what her father was doing in the weeks prior. I liked it, though it was hard to read at times.
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  • Tricia
    April 11, 2017
    When I first started this book I was a little frustrated as the translation wasn't too accurate.It seemed like there were sentences missing making the thread hard to follow. Of course, too, in some instances, the translation was just off. I've read lots of translated novels and usually, it isn't a big deal. Here, however, it put me off to almost the first half of the book. At the same time, I really did not care for Ella, at all. As the story progressed my interest was piqued to the point where When I first started this book I was a little frustrated as the translation wasn't too accurate.It seemed like there were sentences missing making the thread hard to follow. Of course, too, in some instances, the translation was just off. I've read lots of translated novels and usually, it isn't a big deal. Here, however, it put me off to almost the first half of the book. At the same time, I really did not care for Ella, at all. As the story progressed my interest was piqued to the point where I either just ignored the hiccups of the translation or it drastically improved. Either way, I was really drawn in and I finished this book in the early morning hours.I also eventually warmed to Ella but most notable was that this plotline was so good!I loved how this story unraveled and how the ending came together, totally worth it to continue and finish this suspenseful mystery!
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  • Jeremy Megraw
    April 25, 2017
    Originally posted on Crime Fiction LoverElla Nygaard’s earliest memory is becoming an orphan when her father murdered her mother. However, she is suppressing her memory of the event, and as a result suffers from PTSD, and is subject to fits. She is now a single mother on welfare in the suburbs of Copenhagen who must suffer the indignities of a system that monitors and scrutinises her every move. Hovering over her every decision in life is the implied threat of losing her 11-year-old son if she m Originally posted on Crime Fiction LoverElla Nygaard’s earliest memory is becoming an orphan when her father murdered her mother. However, she is suppressing her memory of the event, and as a result suffers from PTSD, and is subject to fits. She is now a single mother on welfare in the suburbs of Copenhagen who must suffer the indignities of a system that monitors and scrutinises her every move. Hovering over her every decision in life is the implied threat of losing her 11-year-old son if she misbehaves. Not helpful to her case is her rebellious distrust of the state and its helping hand. She experienced several foster families before becoming a pregnant young adult, and has scraped through life ever since.In the bleak opening scene, Ella is smoking outside her cement housing block with her only friend Rosa, herself on the edge of alcoholism. Soon after, she is on the lam with her son Alex after her anger got the best of her, and she holes up in her grandmother’s house on the coast of the North Sea, a house as abandoned as Ella’s memories of her traumatic past.Ella’s Icelandic grandmother, who owns the place, is the last person she wants to face. She is a tragic figure who has lost one son to the sea and the other she believes was wrongly accused of murder. Ella refuses to discuss it or even see the old woman, who now lives in a care home. As memories begin to surface that remind Ella of the thing she wants to forget, she still won’t visit the old woman and fiercely resists any intimacy, whether offered by a local surfer, the house’s caretaker Baek-Nielson, or even childhood flame Thomas. The one intrusion she allows is the elderly hippie Barbara, an eccentric but kindred spirit who takes her under her wing and eventually moves in with her.As the title indicates, being in her childhood home re-awakens memories, despite Ella’s resistance. Little by little, the deep-seated trauma of that night on the dunes is awakened, along with more welcome fugitive memories, such as how to clean a fish and where best to find amber on the beach. The memory of her mother’s murder also drives a second narrative that alternates with Ella’s own, this one leading up to that fateful night in 1994.As Ella struggles with her current situation, flashbacks from the perspectives of each of Ella’s parents, Anna and Helgi, bring us closer to the moment of murder with each chapter. Helgi is a construction worker in a stagnant marriage, whose torrid affair with a mysterious young woman named Christy becomes increasingly unstable, and he realises he can’t extricate himself. His wife Anna must deal with her husband’s rejection, but also increasingly disturbing threats from the conservative religious community that expelled her years before. Part of the growing suspense built by Agnete Friis is how these facts might relate to the murderAs events threaten to overcome her, Ella realises she must re-kindle her memory order to protect herself and her son from the very secrets that the past reveal. She seeks out her old case files in order to reconstruct the events that turned her life upside down, to understand her parents’ and her own struggles. She is aided by a trusted social services counselor over the years, who is distinct from the other counsellors – the ones that passively harass her in scenes vividly portraying life as a ward of the state.The dilapidated cottage by the rugged sea, which both shelters Ella and also compels her to face her demons from childhood, serves as a powerful symbol for Ella’s struggling mind and her remembering body. The gradual unraveling of the central murder, which provides suspense and culminates in a final confrontation, plays out within a cohesive theme of memory and redemption.If you like deeply flawed and reluctant protagonists who overcome adversity, there are certainly echoes of Nina Borg here. And that’s no surprise, because alongside Lene Kaaberbol, Agnete Friis is co-author the Nina Borg series. In her solo debut she delivers a realistic, gritty thriller with a lot of heart. You will find yourself rooting for the angry, damaged underdog Ella who yearns to have a normal life with her son. This novel is hopeful and uplifting and while delivered in the sober tones characteristic of Nordic noir, you may still feel a hitch in your throat at it’s cathartic ending.
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