If She Did It, Jessica Treadway

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The Premise

Hanna was attacked in her own home, but holds no memory of the night that killed her husband and alienated her from her youngest daughter, Dawn, whose boyfriend is held responsible for the attack. With Rud’s successful appeal presenting the need for a new trial, will Hanna’s memory of the attack come back? And, in all honesty, does she want it to, when it might implicate the daughter she has just invited back into her home?

The Verdict

The write up of the novel sounds good – even when summarising it above I was intrigued by the premise. The trouble is, the delivery was not great. I found the book really boring – it’s taken me almost 2 weeks to read it because every time I tried I was just bored by the writing style, the bland characters and the lack of anything happening. Much of the story is told through flashback, with Hanna remembering events leading up to her attack. They are memories that could apply to any situation – her daughter bringing a new boyfriend to her sister’s wedding, family not getting on with the new man in a child’s life, happy family memories and those of friendships coming to an end. There was nothing exceptional about the way they were written or what they portrayed. If Treadway was simply trying to emphasise how normal the family was, she did it so successfully that they simply weren’t interesting to read about.

A few feature of the novel was Dawn’s struggle with her lazy eye, and her inability to make friends. Hanna’s perception of this as a mother is really naive, and the way she and her husband Joe dealt with it is uncomfortable, in the way they refuse her surgery and refer to it. They end up helping her to alienate herself from her peers because they refuse to acknowledge the lazy eye. Perhaps there was more to Dawn’s disability – she definitely struggled socially – but this was not portrayed successfully by Treadway until it was raised in the final pages. It wasn’t a great character development.

Dawn was so obviously the culprit from the first page. I know I often work out the endings of books because I have read so much, but it was so obviously pointing towards her.

The one thing that Treadway did manage to do well was portray a mother’s blind spots. Hanna has a history of trying to protect Dawn from what she is. She cannot see that her daughter needs help beyond that of the fixing of the lazy eye and refuses to accept the criminal behaviour that Dawn exhibited in her teenage years. Treadway shows how a mother can choose what she wants to see in the way that Hanna can’t see that the surgery has totally reversed itself until the final scene with Dawn in the police station. Treadway demonstrates successfully how a mother can refuse to acknowledge the deficits of their children, even at risk to themselves. However, again, this didn’t really come across in the powerful way it had the potential to, but was subtly hinted at throughout.

Overall, I really just didn’t enjoy reading this novel, I found it incredibly boring and tedious. Treadway overplays her characterisation of Hanna and underplays Dawn’s descent into madness, and puts all of that in a mundane and frustrating setting that really has nothing to it. Would not read this author again.

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