Tuesday 20 February 2018

Review: Never Say Goodbye by Linda Kavanagh

Poolbeg, €15.99, Paperback

Psychotherapist Claire has always believed her sister Zoe's drowning at the age of 13 was a tragic accident.

However, after the death of her alcoholic mother, Claire inherits the family home and finds Zoe's secret diary. And she learns that her sister had been driven to suicide after appalling acts of bullying by four schoolgirls in her class.

So Claire -- even though thirty years have passed since then -- sets out to find the bullies and avenge Zoe's death.

The four bullies are now well-heeled Irish women in their forties, with privileged lives and enough golf and shopping to keep their demons at bay. They're still a tight-knit group, united by their secret guilt.

Claire tracks them down and begins to take her revenge. Suddenly, out of the blue, someone is threatening to strip away the veneer of respectability they've built around themselves.

Claire doesn't have to work too hard at it because the bullies almost do it to themselves. It turns out the women have quite a few other secrets and it doesn't take long to expose them. They all get their comeuppance as their comfortable lives begin to unravel. However, nothing is as simple as it seems. In another twist, an even darker secret is exposed, and it is Claire's turn to feel guilty when she discovers what drove her classmates to pick on Zoe and why her own family life had been destroyed three decades earlier.

Former journalist Linda Kavanagh's experience as a writer and observer comes through in this, her fifth novel, exploring the self-perpetuating nature of bullying and the lasting effect it can have on young lives. Alternating between past and present, Never Say Goodbye draws the reader into a web of deceit and suspense. It keeps the pages turning right up to the denouement, which comes as an unexpected and horrific climax. If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, this one's for you.

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