I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works.
I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared.
But I will.”
Author: Mary Kubica
Publication: Original edition (July 29, 2014)
Author photographer: Sarah Jastre
This novel was ripped and read from my ever teetering TBR list and so I may be prepared for my conversation with Ms. Kubica
Folks who know me, know I love debuts. For me, it's a bit like sticking your toes in the water before jumping in and swimming in the pond. After reading this read, I'd swim in Ms. Kubica's writing for hours on end.
Gratefully, she has a few:
Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels including The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, Don't you Cry, Every Last Lie, and When The Lights Go Out and her new release, The Other Mrs.
Her debut, The Good Girl is a page-turner of a kidnapping that did not go according to plan. With only a handful of characters, Ms. Kubica pens such an intriguing tale of mystery, I must warn you, you will not want any interruptions while you are entertained.
Give yourself a couple of minutes, I'll give you a quick synopsis of this read you'll enjoy as much as I ~
Mia Dennett, the neglected daughter of a distinguished Chicago judge, James Dennett, is the victim of the kidnap. This story is told in alternating first-person perspectives, before and after Mia is recovered. Eve Dennett is the mother of the victim, Colin Thatcher is the kidnapper, and Gabe Hoffman is the detective that will get to the bottom of this come Hell or high water.
Mia has a somewhat of a boyfriend who at times keeps to their dates and more often then none doesn't for one reason and the next. One night while Mia is waiting for him and becomes a no show, she meets Colin. The scene that takes place at the bar, Mia feels comfortable enough with Colin to leave with him for a one-night stand.
Later that night, she finds herself being thrown into Colin's truck and instead of being handed over to the man that had hired Colin for the job, they head out of town. Ending up in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, where the emotional psychological roller-coaster starts for Mia. And Colin. And folks, the season is heading toward winter.
Eve and Detective Hoffman are determined to find Mia where Eve's husband, Judge Dennett is pretty much in the background and stays aloof. He has a demeanor of being 'greater than thou' and demanded some questions from the detective not to be bothered with. After all, they are the "perfect" little family and they do have an image to uphold in the eyes of society. Even Mia's older sister, Grace, who was off at college following her daddy's footsteps in the field of law seems not as terrified as one should feel when their sister goes missing.
But then, during this whole read nothing is quite as it seems.
Ms. Kubica's style in writing keeps you close to the characters and taunts the reader's anticipation of trying to figure this mystery out with a flair of penmanship that is sublime. To add to the going back and forth of before and after Mia's recovery, you also have subplots that add some flavor to the mix.
Colin's mother plays a part where I found a liking toward her yet I did have a suspicious eye on after the introduction. There is also a love story going on, actually two love stories, one going sour and another sweetening. And let's not forget the enigmatic man going by the name of Dalmar with the unforgiving black eyes who had hired Colin for the kidnapping. He has his agenda one would think he wants to maintain.
Folks these subplots wrap up nicely too, in the end. Love how your thoughts you still have in the back of your mind when you're nearing the end all get answered.
The characters' growth in this tale is a minimum. I find Eve a bit meek and submissive as with Mia. Gabe's strong character stays linear throughout. Even Colin's character stays pretty much the same other than he grows with inter-monologue thoughts. And this bully, Judge Dennett; he stays a polished arrogant ass.
The atmosphere made the settings radiate off the pages from the characters. With the bitter cold of winter in Minnesota, you could easily imagine what Mia and Colin went through in that secluded cabin. Especially Colin's fight with his inter-monologue. How lonely and distraught Eve was during the whole read and with Gabe, his determination; both personal and professional.
One keynote in this tale I enjoyed was Mia's dialogue - it was next to nil. I thought the three other characters narrating this story did a superb job of communicating with what was going on with Mia. And with the 'before and after' effect in this style of writing, the reader has no worries about what is going on with the victim. None so ever.
As the ending comes to a close, all the loose strings are tied neatly to a nice bow. Secured, and with the epilogue making a safety knot that you won't see coming, you'll close this book and say the same thing I'd said, "Damn, that was a read!" By the way folks, it's not a cliche when it's meant as the real thing.
I have had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Kubica one evening in late April, via Zoom, answering questions that added depth to this fantastic story of a kidnapping gone awry.
She tells us it all started with an atypical plot. A kidnapping plot that is not actually what it seems, but as she wrote, the characters told her the story, other than the other way around.
Mary had never been an outliner, she would write a chapter, and then it would just take off from that point. She likes the spontaneity of writing. She remembers she had talked with "20 different writers and pretty much they collectively said there is no right or wrong way, you just pick a method that works for you."
One of Mary's biggest challenges in writing The Good Girl was finding the time to write. Her daughter was just a year old and her son was yet to be born. It took her five years to write this novel. Starting early in the day, while her young children were still "sleeping in" she would write. Starting around 5 a.m. with her first cup of coffee, she had the freedom to bring a new life into this world - The Good Girl.
Another one of her challenges was keeping this novel a secret. Other than to her husband, she wanted to keep it a secret from her family and friends until it was actually published.
That in my opinion folks would be daunting in and of itself. But, after 70 or so rejections from her queries, she could excitedly announce to her family, "Look what happened!"
Mary had chosen to write The Good Girl in three different segments, merging them all together upon completion: Eve and Gabe in the Before chapters, Eve and Gabe After, and finally, Colin Before. Telling a story altogether different than the individual parts.
Ms. Kubica wanted to become a writer at an early age of around eight or ten years old and then around the age of twelve, she and her cousin Carrie had a sleepover at their grandparents' house, where Carrie produced her first manuscript for Mary to read, and she remembers "holding the crisp computer paper (the continuous feed paper with perforated edges) and thinking: this is where books come from." It was then she knew she wanted to become a writer. In the months ahead she would steal away with the family's typewriter to her bedroom to write in private.
However, writing was more of a dream or hobby and less of a career. Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. Although she loves teaching, she is now a former high school history teacher.
As I read The Good Girl there were some off the wall questions that rolled through my curiosities as a reader. As Mia and Colin were at the secluded cabin in Minnesota, does Mary camp? Since Mia was a talented artist, does Mary draw? Was there a different title she started out with? She smiled with the first question and told of how she remembered one night while she and her family camped, a rainstorm came and their tent collapsed in the middle of the night (and it was her last night camping) and with her knack for drawing, yes she does, but, not very good.
To the question of a different title, yes. At first, the novel was going to be called Migration. Once she had an editor, "the editor made it very clear that was a terrible title." Once all the edits were done they had put their heads together and came up with a handful of titles. The Good Girl, The Good Daughter, The Perfect Daughter. They were all pretty much similar. When they had talked with marketers and all collectively voted, The Good Girl won. This book came out about two years after Gone Girl and Gone Girl was hugely popular. She voiced herself with some concern with the similarity with Gone Girl. But she remembers someone had said by the time this novel comes out, everyone would have forgotten about Gone Girl. Still, she had voiced that Gone Girl was "soooo huge", she thought that Gone Girl will never go away. (by the way, folks, Gone Girl and The Good Girl are very different reads)
There were many parts with this Zoom meeting I cannot talk about for the sole reason I will not give away any of the twists nor the ending, but, it was enlightening for me to hear 'behind the scenes footage' of how these twists and this book became to be. For example, who the kidnapper was actually going to be and then not. Mia was going to be one of the main narrators, but...
With the character Colin, how she became closer to that character as she wrote and then...
Ms. Kubica states she has a very close relationship with her characters. Taking ordinary characters and putting them in not so ordinary situations.
And, she loves book clubs with all the input from the readers. I totally agree, because just as Edmund Wilson had stated: No two persons ever read the same book.
With all novels, there is one part I find folks hardly ever talk or ask about: the dedication. The Good Girl is dedicated - For A & A ~ I had an inclination A & A stood for her children. She smiled brightly and confirmed my gut feeling.
Mary, on behalf of the Madison Public Library and myself, I would like to thank you for your time. Such a great great time with you. I enjoyed myself immensely with the smiles and all the laughs. I wish you all the best with your writing career.
~ Folks, if you want a read to kidnap you from your daily doldrums of reality, you've come upon it. Highly recommended read.
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- Amazon ~ Hardback $15.59 ~ Paperback $10.94 ~ Kindle $7.99 ~ USD
- Barnes & Noble ~ Hardback $24.95 ~ Paperback $15.95 ~ NOOK $7.95 ~ USD
- IndieBound ~ Support your local book stores
About the author:
Her first novel THE GOOD GIRL was an Indie Next pick in August of 2014, received a Strand Critics Nomination for Best First Novel, and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in Debut Goodreads Author and in Mystery & Thriller for 2014. Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide.
She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children.
Read an excerpt from The Good Girl
on Mary Kubica's site
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