book review: run to me by diane hester

This book was sent to me by Random House Australia. I have been asked to write a review and my review is truthful to my opinion of the book.

Run to Me

From the press release:

It’s been two years since Shyler O’Neil’s beloved son Jesse was killed – but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of nothern Maine.

Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger – a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother’s love – finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s seen too much and is now running for his life.

Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler’s cabin. He’ll take whatever help she can give – even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse…

With the pursuers hot on their heels, ‘mother’ and ‘son’ go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler’s one chance at redepmtion.

Either that, or she is the child’s greatest threat…

It’s hard to imagine just how traumatic is would be to have your child die. So it is unfathomable to think about the guilt and the aching you would feel to see your child die right before your eyes and being unable to stop it. This feeling that I can’t even conceive is a reality for Shyler O’Neil. After watching Fish Hook and Puppet hold her precious son Jesse out over a high landing bridge and seeing him fall to his death in the cascading river below, Shyler withdrew from life and, by extension, reality. After the police don’t believe her story, Shyler detaches herself from her family, her marriage, her friends and civilisation by taking up residence in a secluded cabin in the forest, coming to town only when necessary and speaking to as few people as possible.

When Zack Ballinger’s mother started a new relationship, she was given the choice between her new man and her son. She chose her man and so Zack went into foster care. A kid with an attitude, Zack never really adjusted to the foster system and has a general distrust for adults. Who wouldn’t when their own mother gives them up for no other reason than she can no longer be bothered to be a mother. Shuttling from foster home to foster home, he ends up at the Leary’s with Reece and Corey. The only reason they became foster carers was for the government cheque they received for doing so.

When the supposed Mr Westgate and Ms Knowles turn up from the New Hampshire Department of Child Welfare, Reece and Corey feel like they have been saved. Zack is cautious and rightly so. After being taken to a “safe house”, Zack discovers that their real names are Nolan and Vanessa and they’ve been taken because of something they have seen when Zack was stealing from a warehouse. They are wanted by Lazaro, a well known criminal. They were primarily taken because they had no parents and their last foster carers couldn’t care less.

Run To Me follows Zack’s attempts to save himself and the boys from the criminals they have been kidnapped by while interlaced with Shyler’s story as she struggles to be around people. The saving grace for both Zack and Shyler is the small town’s doctor, Dr Chase Hadley.

A suspenseful thriller, I found it easy to read Run To Me. Diane has captured the spirit of her characters in such a way that I can picture them all clearly in my head. The constant shifting in perspective kept the book fresh and fast-paced, though at times it was a tiny bit confusing to figure how you got to a certain point. As I was reading an eBook version of it, I sometimes double-checked to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped a page. Apart from this very minor issue, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

My favourite element of the book? Never truly knowing (until the very end) whether or not Shyler was responsible for Jesse’s death. There are times when I’m convinced it was at the hands of Fish Hook and Puppet. Then when she is in a delusional state, thinking that she sees them, I’m convinced they are figments of her imagination, created to make herself feel better for not watching Jesse closely which led to his death. Both options are presented plausibly, leaving the reader wondering most of the novel which is real and what is not.

Want to find out who really killed Jesse? Well I’m not going to tell you, go and read the book now!

This is the first novel of American-Australian suspense writer Diane Hester and it is published today. To find out more about Diane, you can visit her website here, or her author page at Random House Australia here.

The most incredible part of Diane’s story is that she received a publishing contract after pitching her manuscript at a Romance Writers of Australia conference! I must get myself along to one of those and, I don’t know, actually finish a manuscript!

Images supplied by Random House Australia. 

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