By Ekta R. Garg
July 27, 2016
Rated: Bypass it / 2 stars
A woman staggering under the grief of losing her husband to suicide must also cope with the disappearance of her teenage daughter years earlier. When she finds a gun in her husband’s desk, she decides it’s a sign that foul play has occurred. The discovery of the gun helps her uncover the truth about the greatest tragedy in her life. Author Jack Jordan takes his readers through his short book at a pace bordering on frenzied in the somewhat flawed novel My Girl.
Paige Dawson spends her days trying to make it from one hour to the next. In the two months since her husband committed suicide, Paige has become a full-blown alcoholic. When their daughter disappeared ten years earlier, Paige found it hard enough to keep herself together. Now with Ryan gone, Paige cares only about having enough wine to sustain her.
At her father’s insistence, Paige begins sorting through Ryan’s belongings. As she makes her way through his study, she finds a gun in a hidden compartment in the desk drawer. The discovery unnerves her. Why did Ryan need a gun? What scared him so much that he wanted to protect himself?
In addition to the gun, Paige begins observing odd occurrences at home. Someone has entered her house and scrubbed her daughter’s room clean. Another time Paige wakes up from a drunken stupor to her daughter’s voice and discovers that someone left a home video playing on the TV. Paige desperately wants help, but her reputation as a drunk precedes her and she knows no one will believe her. As she allows those close to her to offer her advice and help, Paige makes a painful discovery about her past and will have to face it in order to survive the future.
Author Jack Jordan introduces readers to Paige and her circumstances at a hurried pace. Readers may feel that Jordan wants to rush them through the initial stages of the book to bring the climax forward as soon as possible. As a result, readers will only get to spend time with Paige during her darkest hours. The choices she makes in her life and the activities she engages in may depress some readers.
The climax, by contrast, is designed to shock readers, but its shock value doesn’t justify its inclusion. Some of the story’s biggest questions, too, don’t get definitive answers. Paige offers her opinions, but the narration never provides enough information to confirm whether her conjectures are correct. While the book may be designed to keep readers turning pages, and it does accomplish that goal, it doesn’t provide the deep sense of satisfaction one might receive on encountering a well-intentioned, well-plotted story. I recommend readers Bypass My Girl.