Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.
Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better.
Shay would die for them to like her.
She may have to. (Amazon)
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: 4 stars
We've all felt a little lonely. We've had moments where we don't or can't relate to others, or don't know how to reach out, and just crave that human connection. Now, imagine you think you have finally found someone who can offer you that—someone who makes you feel warm and happy, and loved. Then they pull wool from over your eyes and you realize that they've been using your weakness against you, so that they can not only manipulate you, but violate every aspect of your private life.
That is, in a nutshell, the premise for You Are Not Alone, and it was every bit as twisted as you can imagine. Which means, in short, that it was as delightfully entertaining to read about as one might expect from a Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's thriller.
Shay Miller opens the story for us, and we can't help but feel sorry for her almost instantly. This is a young woman who has horrible prospects not only in her professional life but in her personal one as well. Her close guy friend of years, whom she's in love with, has a girlfriend and she's now, for all intents and purposes, the third wheel. She can't get out of the rut of her temp job while seeking a better position. She soon needs to move out of her current apartment to give the love birds more room to themselves. She doesn't really have a lot of people in her life that she can turn to, and she has just witnessed the suicide of a stranger.
Enter the fabulous, glamorous, beautiful Cassandra and Jane Moore, sisters and co-business owners. They happen upon Shay's life when she's at her lowest, and tuck her under their wing, seemingly helping her improve herself.
And they do, at the beginning. They give Shay a gorgeous makeover, they help her find a new apartment, they encourage her in landing a fantastic new dream job, and they are a big part of Shay's more positive and confident outlook in life. For all intents and purposes, the Moore sisters have had an ideal influence over Shay.
One of the things that I enjoyed most in You Are Not Alone is that the reader sees Shay as such a needy and almost pathetic person at first. She is so desperate to have friends that she will do anything that these two women ask of her—and at times outright tell her to do in their bright and cajoling (a.k.a. manipulative) manner. Shay sometimes goes above and beyond, researching people and looking into their lives to a level that seems almost creepy. She does this without ill will, she's actually a rather kind and sweet person, but it's this very thing that makes Cassandra and Jane exploit her.
As the exploitation begins—alongside the other women in the “power” circle of friendship that the Moore sisters are a part of, excluding Shay—we see the tables turn. Shay was never the villain in the story. Shay just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the level of animosity that these women spew at her in order to use this poor woman for their gain, is sickening.
It is excellently described. The characters come alive while we see their wheels turn and the Moore sisters continue to corner Shay, even while in turn Shay starts to shift and show that she has more than one dimension. She's not just the wallflower that she appears to be at the beginning of the story.
The process of storytelling is a slow burn, but the narrative is so fun and engrossing that it seems to fly by. The more that you know, the more that you want to know, and you are so enraptured in what's going on that you don't really expect the “big reveal” until it's crashing down on you.
I did find that some of the characters were a little weak, and as far as how easily brainwashed they were when one realistically considers the level of camaraderie between them (like Jody with the Moore sisters). And taking into account how much time the authors took to explain the backstory of almost any “important” character, and how much time we spend in the present moment of the plot, the end was slightly rushed. While it was satisfying, it didn't linger as much as I would've liked.
This is, however, still a delightfully enjoyable mystery. And we have been given a lead in which quite a few people will find a kindred spirit. It's cleverly done.