elizabeth is missing // DNF book review

Title/Author: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Filed Under: Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Publisher/Published: Penguin, January 1st 2014
Format/Pages: Paperback, 277 pages
Where I Read To: 51% Finished

Synopsis: ‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago… Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son – not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something. Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.

I retweeted a great thing the other day about DNFing books and how you should never feel coerced into finishing a book just for the sake of saying you’d read it the whole way through. That really did help me kick this book out of my life after a pitiful month attempting to read through both the confusing narrative and the-plot-that-went-nowhere, I’ve finally given up on it and marked it as DNF on Goodreads. God is that a refreshing feeling. Even though this book has buckets of glowing reviews I feel it is boring and lacklustre. Of course, I never quite found out what the big mystery is: what became of Sukey; whether Elizabeth was truly missing or not. I thought I’d be more bothered since I never like to leave a mystery on a cliff-hanger but I’m surprisingly not. I think the book wore me down so much that by the 51% mark I’d just given up on ever knowing and come to peace with my reading termination.

A thing to know about this book is that the main character, Maud, suffers from extreme Dementia. This is of course frustrating for most readers to have sort through her jumbled narrative but I’m the biggest fan of unreliable narrators so I was enthused by this more than put off. My issue is not with Maud, even if she does get more than a little repetitive and annoying, it is that the plot honestly does not advance in the first half of the book. I ended the book knowing just as much about both disappearances as when I began, pretty much! This is just a frustrating thing to have to go through and although I believe surely by the end things sped up a little I honestly can not suffer through the rest.

So, I apologise, this book really wasn’t for me! I wouldn’t recommend on account of that. Seemingly plenty of people did enjoy it but I cannot count myself as one of those numbers, unfortunately.

– JESS, xo

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