I requested this book from net galley because I recognised the author’s name and had heard good things about her first book, Losing Kate. I’m so pleased I was successful and given the opportunity to read and review Missing You. I seriously loved this book.
I must say the blurb is a little misleading. I was thinking it might be a family drama; a couple coping with their autistic child, lots of arguments and deep thoughts. And on some level, that is exactly how it starts out, but gradually the sense of all not being as it seems builds until I was so tense I sat up all night turning pages madly. I certainly wouldn’t class this as a romance. If I had to place the book into a genre, I’d say psychological thriller would be my pick.
We get three narrators, all offering their points of views in the first person: Aisha’s, her husband Ryan’s, and her father Patrick’s. Some chapters are flashbacks, and some are written in the present, but it isn’t difficult to follow.
I found Aisha and Patrick instantly likeable. The latter was so real to life and will remind a lot of readers of cantankerous old men they know, I’m sure. Unfortunately I was less sure of Ryan’s appeal or his trustworthiness. I wasn’t keen on his, typical though it may be, drinking habits or surfing lifestyle and therefore I didn’t warm to him as I did the other two narrators.
I’ve always had a fascination with twins, however, and when we were introduced to his brother, Luke, I was completely hooked.
The clever plot is revealed in layers, and I loved the way the most ordinary conversations and situations were suddenly sinister as the story unfolded. Kaden makes some very intelligent observations (again, especially with Patrick, I found) and her handling of showing the good and bad aspects of mental health seems effortless.
As a Queenslander, I adored the setting. For me, it almost became another character. I so enjoyed reading so many familiar places I’ve lived in or visited over the years.
If I had one gripe, it would be about the ending. I’m not saying the ending is abrupt or unresolved (like some other books I’ve read lately) but without spoiling, I suppose I’ll admit it was a little too tame for me. (The pacifist in me shrieks with horror.)
I was blown away by this, Brisbane-based author Kylie Kaden’s second novel. After reading her debut novel, Losing Kate, last year (my review here), I didn’t think she could get any better. Boy was I in for a surprise! As most of you that follow my blog know, I’ve never really enjoyed novels from the first-person perspective but, thankfully, our Aussie authors are showing me that they can get this point of view right and I’ve begun to embrace this manner of narrative with its sense of immediacy and intimacy.
In Missing You, I was taken on a suspenseful and alluring journey into the lives of Aisha and Ryan along with their high-needs son Eli and thoroughly enjoyed her exploration of human complexity and darkness.
When Aisha met Ryan at Uni, it was instant love, consummated by a mind-blowing kiss. Seven years later, even though Ryan didn’t want the classic suburban life with one point five children (or however much it is these days), they are married with one son, four-year old Eli, who is on the spectrum – and life has changed for them.
Ryan, in a management position feels that Aisha, a lawyer, is no longer the girl he met and Aisha feels much the same, preferring to see to the needs of their son first and foremost. After an argument that sees Ryan fleeing their home and Aisha seeking the comfort of her family, she goes missing after receiving a telephone call and telling her father that she is going to see a friend in need. When she doesn’t return home, the family is catapulted into turmoil – this is not like Aisha at all – she would never leave her son!
Kylie ratchets up the suspense when the police discover Aisha’s car with blood in it and her family begin to fear the worst. However, it is the events that follow that will have your stomach churning.
They say that the second novel is sometimes the hardest to write and, in the time that I’ve been reviewing, I’ve read many a book review where reviewers have been disappointed by an author’s sophomore attempt. For those of you who read Kylie’s first novel believe me when I say that, as an author, she has grown.
I really fell in love with Patrick, Aisha’s father who, usually a bit surly and unable to find a way to relate to his grandson, is given this opportunity to connect with Eli. Although initially he is somewhat unreliable with regard to certain aspects (which adds to the tension) due to him not being privy to Aisha and Ryan's innermost thoughts and interactions like the reader is, as we move through the story the couple's internal monologue and dialogue reveals all and the different viewpoints allow us to sympathise and gain a better understanding of all the characters.
Of course, a story like this has to have an antagonist and Kylie has superbly crafted hers. In actual fact she introduces two possibilities, intensifying the suspense factor and increasing the uncertainty of the plot and I commend any author who is able to make it impossible for me to distinguish exactly who it is until they are absolutely ready.
Cleverly constructed, captivatingly written and, at times poignant, I found it difficult to put this novel down and read it within a day. Just like Aisha and Ryan got under each other’s skin, I have no doubt that this book will creep under yours! Highly recommended.
"At what point did this become my fate? Did I ever control it? And if I'd chosen differently, would all the good parts dissolve along with the bad? Even if this is the end, I have no regrets. For giving into that magnetic pull we had, despite wanting different things....I didn't think it was possible to love another human more..."
Aisha and Ryan fell in love the moment they met, and were certain would make it work, despite the differences between them. Five years later, struggling with the reality of their compromises and the relentless demands of parenting their autistic spectrum son, they fight and Ryan walks away. A day later, Aisha receives a late night phone call, and promising to return in an hour or so, leaves her son, Eli, in her father's care. Three days later Aisha has still not come home, Ryan can't be reached, and while the police seem inclined to dismiss Patrick's fears, he is certain something is wrong.
From the first page the reader is aware that wherever Aisha is, she is in trouble. The tension builds as the reader wonders why she is missing, has Aisha simply had enough, snapping under the strain, or is there a more sinister reason for her absence?
"I calmly wonder is this is how it feels to die: This strange lightness, drifting in zero gravity. I feel no pain, but I have no control. I command my brain to charge my limbs, to pry open my eyes, but it's no use."
Missing You unfolds through the perspectives of Aisha, Ryan and Patrick, shifting from the present, through the past, until the two timelines merge.
Over a period of seven days, Patrick worries about his missing daughter while caring for his grandson. Eli's behaviour is a challenge for Patrick and Kaden explores the difficulties of catering to his needs.
"Seventy years I've made it, and never seen a boy like him."
Aisha and Ryan's narratives reveal their life together - their passionate romance, their feelings about marriage and parenthood, - and why the cracks had begun to appear, leading to the fight that separates them the day before Aisha goes missing. Kaden does a wonderful job of creating two interesting, well rounded characters and mapping a fairytale relationship complicated by reality.
"My life isn't perfect, Gabe. We're broke, tired, antisocial. The highlight of my week is more than four hours' consecutive sleep. But we love each other. I love my son."
Missing You held me in its thrall from the first page, and while I confess to being a little disappointed in one element of the ending, I found it to be a layered, absorbing tale of love and suspense.
The first thing you must know: I loved Missing You so much I read it in a night.
I have to admit, the back cover blurb didn't jump out at me: Young couple meet, fall in love and get married—though he's a bit of a louse. Their son is autistic, putting a strain on their marriage. The hubby leaves. The wife then disappears one night leaving the child with her father.
I imagined protracted scenes about their great (albeit mismatched) romance, then a lot of medical stuff and overwhelm relating to their son and so forth before then diving into the 'has she run away or did someone make her disappear?' scenario. But it wasn't like that at all. Thank god for the unexpected!
Other than a quick teaser the book dives straight into it, and we're in the head of Patrick, who's been left with his four-year old grandson Eli.
The novel predominantly alternates between Patrick in the present; and Aisha and Ryan's relationship over a five-six year timespan. Through shared snippets we learn of their meeting, romance, marriage and pregnancy.
Interestingly I enjoyed being in Patrick's head and his time with Eli as much, or even more than, I enjoyed the unfolding story of Aisha and Ryan.
I felt the unveiling of the final mystery was a teensy bit anticlimactic (and frustratingly unfulfilling for this lover of closure!), however it's not a mystery / suspense which relies solely on a big 'reveal' at the end.
Kaden's structuring of the book—allowing us to learn a little at a time—is what kept me turning page after page.
Missing You is a fabulous second novel from Kaden and I cannot wait to see what she does next.
I’m participating in a blog tour in conjunction with the release of the novel, so you can <b>read my full review from 10 April 2015: http://www.debbish.com/books-literature/missing-you-by-kylie-kaden/ </b>
When Aisha meets Ryan at university, the attraction is instant. Despite their unbridled passion for each other, their differences become obvious early in their relationship – Ryan is much older than Aisha, values his freedom and does not want to become trapped by children, mortgages and a nine-to-five job. Whereas Aisha, whose mother left when she was a child, yearns for babies, a stable family life and a home to call her own. Young and in love they are willing to compromise, and soon they are married, have bought their own home and are expecting their first child. But with the unrelenting demands of parenting an autistic son the cracks are soon starting to show. Aisha is always tired, whilst Ryan starts to resent his surburban life which holds little joy for him. They argue, Ryan leaves, and Aisha seeks the comfort of her family. A day later, after receiving a mysterious phone call, Aisha leaves Eli in the care of her father Patrick and disappears without a trace.
Missing You is told in the voices of Patrick, Aisha and Ryan and slowly unravels their story, spanning the five-year period between Aisha and Ryan’s first meeting to the time Aisha goes missing. Whilst I enjoyed reading about Aisha and Ryan’s romance, the slow spiralling out of control of their marriage and the mystery behind Aisha’s disappearance, my favourite by far was Patrick’s voice as he is trying to connect with his autistic grandson. “Seventy years I’ve made it, and never seen a boy like him. The kid is trouble”, are his first observations about young Eli. After bringing up his own daughters on his own, he is baffled by the strange little boy who does not respond as other children do. I loved the way Patrick slowly bonds with the boy – from his initial thought that he needs a good spanking to the realisation that Eli’s mind works differently to other children. The grandfather-grandson relationship evolving is touching and though provoking, and was the part of the story I enjoyed most of all. Whilst all characters’ voices are authentic and believable, Patrick’s grumpy-old-man character captured the essence of the story for me and kept me wanting to read more.
For me, Missing You was more a story about people and relationships than a mystery, and I found elements of the final unravelling of the story behind Aisha’s disappearance a bit disappointing and anti-climatic, but will not give any spoilers here. All in all, Missing You is an absorbing read giving an insight into the effects of raising a special-needs child on a marriage as well as the long-term effects of childhood trauma and loss reaching far into adulthood. This is my first novel by Kaden and I am interested to read more from this author.
'I thought I knew her like the tides - who she is; what she wants.' Ryan on Aisha. It's lines like this that keep me coming back to Kylie Kaden's writing and her stories. I loved Losing Kate and Missing You makes a wonderful follow up for Kylie, a great fresh voice in Australian fiction. For me, the storyline showing the development in the relationship between the grandfather, Patrick, and Eli, Aisha and Ryan's son steals the show. The fishing scene 'catching choona' is superb and I felt like I had a real insight into what it must be like to nurture and love a high-needs child. Both the grandparent and Eli are characterised beautifully. Really, really enjoyable and a recommended read for me.
Like Losing Kate (loved, loved her debut) there is a mystery - a disappearance. I love an author who creates authentic characters (Kylie stays clear of the cliche) and enjoyed the two time periods and the slow reveal of each character's issues and challenges.
Reading the reviews on this it seems while all the characters are well drawn and complex it is the relationship between Eli, an autistic boy, and his grandfather, Patrick that shines. I have to agree. I loved how they learned life lessons from each other. This story is about faith and believing in the people you love.