Hanna Schutt was brutally attacked while lying in her bed three years before the story starts. That night her husband Joe died in the same attack. Rud Petty, the boyfriend of their youngest daughter Dawn, was imprisoned for the attack but now he is being allowed an appeal on the grounds that Hanna had nodded her assent that he was the person responsible while being taken to hospital, the only problem is her memory was damaged in the attack and she no longer remembers anything from that night.
The title of the book relates to the main question: was Dawn involved in any way with the brutal attack on her parents? Hanna has always defended her daughter from any such accusation but with the appeal coming up she has agreed to try to recover her memory of the attack certain that Dawn knew nothing.
There were elements that I really liked in this tale, part of the background to the mother daughter relationship is that Dawn had a lazy eye which in part was why she was bullied at school. Not being anywhere near as accomplished as her elder sister Iris, she struggled socially and was incredibly close to Hanna right up until the point she met Rud. There were other elements that frustrated me. This story is narrated by Hanna and whether by design or lack of good editing, she goes off at tangents all the time. At one point she is ruminating over Dawn getting a job and just this point resulted in several pages of remembering her first job, why she had to get it, what it was, an unfortunate event that happened while engaged in said job etc. All of this took away from the underlying tension by breaking up the storyline.
None of the characters in this book are particularly appealing, Hanna comes across as a little bit gullible although during the book she does at least become more self-aware. While the author does her best to rouse sympathy for Dawn, for me the endless repetition of events, such as the disagreement over whether surgery for the eye would help her, diluted the efforts made. Iris came across as a bit of a prig, not the nicest big sister during the girl’s childhood but all par for the course in sibling rivalry but her actions as an adult simply didn’t ring true.
Even though I found parts of this book annoying by the last third I was turning the pages at some speed as the premise is really good. Although I’m nothing like Hanna, certainly in respect of her naiveté, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone copes with even the faintest possibility that their child could be a party to such a brutal act. As happens with Hanna in this story I’m sure you couldn’t help but question what had gone before, doubted the choices you made and even made excuses over your own, and your child’s behaviour.
I’d like to thank the publishers, Little Brown Book Group UK who allowed me to read a copy of this book for review purposes. Readers in the US may have read this under the title Lacy Eye. If She Did It was published on 10 March 2015.