Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Imagine being on the brink of sanity, not being certain of what is real and what is a horrifyingly vivid dream. This is the situation retired military veteran and single parent, Maya, finds herself in after the untimely death of her sister and husband. The doctors doubt her sanity. The police doubt her story, and her best friend and fellow service member, Sean, suspects that she’s cracking.

This book has interesting portrayals of strength in relation to gender. Men crawl into the bottle to deal with pain while Maya tries to unravel the conspiratorial noose that is hanging her loved ones. I love the independence that Maya shows by refusing to enlist help but I also the protective mother bear role she plays.

This book has elements of social justice and the changing opinions of authority in current times. Arguably, politics are less transparent than ever. Incorporating a character as a whistleblower portrayed neither as a free speech hero or a treasonist monster shows the complexity of this issue in real life. Should the powerful go unchecked, accountable to no one? No. Are there things that should remain secret from the general public? Sometimes. This is a great element which is complemented by Maya’s distrust of the police force. With questionable shootings and accusations of excessive force on the news public opinion is swaying between police being saviors and keepers of order to perhaps another threat the average citizen should fear. The characters in this book all live in a world of grey, not being an archetype for good or for evil.

While searching for the truth about her sister and husband’s deaths Maya begins to uncover secrets which leads her to question how well she knew the people closest to her. This parallels the conclusion when the reader finds out that even though the book is told from Maya’s perspective she’s been keeping a secret from the readers the whole time.

I like when books are bold enough to touch on social issues. I love the gender representations in this book. This falls into one of my top ten favorite books ever. 10/10 for craftsmanship and concept.

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