“Irony can be tiresome when what you really need is a hug.”
In a moment of desperation, impulsivity, insanity, recklessness, Lucy takes a baby from a cart in the middle of IKEA and walks away. This is the premise behind What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross, and though it seems simple, there is a lot of thought and detail within the book.
I am not completely sure how I feel about most of the characters, given I do not understand some of their actions and reactions throughout the novel. For instance, what in the world would drive someone to take a baby from IKEA? Or any store? Or frankly…at all? I think I am experiencing some disconnect. The book is written in such a way that I think we are meant to really connect with it? It was not a mystery in my mind, nor was it really a thriller. I imagine they classify this book as a thriller or drama in some form, but it did not hold the same impact as some of the others I read. I am not quite sure what was missing, but I know something was.
There are, however, a number of positives in this book. It switches point of view between more than two characters, and it does so quite quickly as well. Now, this is not inherently a good thing. In fact, switching point of view, particularly if it is frequent, is a difficult task to pull off even half decently. I think Helen does a good job at interweaving her main points of view. I am never confused about whose perspective I am reading about and sometimes when I have an important question about another character, their perspective is the next one in line.
At the same time, there are some improvements I think she could make. In some instances, I think the voices seemed too similar to one another. While I knew who was talking, it was not 100 right for me. I think the most significant case would be between Lucy and Marilyn, especially given they already similar characters (kidnapper mom versus biological mom). Honestly, I think this similarity is also why they need the distinction in their voices even more than the others.
I also liked how this was a quick read and seemed to move fast in terms of the story. This makes it easy for a wide range of people to pick up. While the slow moving and dense material is not wrong, it definitely narrows the market. With that said, I think for my tastes, there could have been more thrill involved throughout. Yes, it is an intense situation, but some of that seemed lessened by the pace of everything. This is a little funny to me, since I also know books that can master the fast pace with the intense stakes. Perhaps it is in the details?
Regardless, I do think What Was Mine is a decent read, which is why I would recommend it if you are looking for a drama/thriller type of novel. Is it the best out there? No, but it is still worth the read, particularly if you are looking for something quick or just want to dip your toes in the water.
If you do read What Was Mine, I would love to know what you think! Do you feel sympathetic to Lucy? Do you feel there was a harsh light cast on Marilyn in an effort to boost Lucy up? Would you have treated Mia/Natalie’s biological dad the same way or would you have shifted his character to play a different role in the story? What did you think of Mia’s actions at the end? I look forward to reading and responding to your comments!
Title: What Was Mine
Author: Helen Klein Ross
Publisher: Gallery Books