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Pretend She's Here

Review

Pretend She's Here

New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice has written 34 novels which have been translated into 24 languages. This includes three young adult books, THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SISTERS, THE BEAUTIFUL LOST and the newly published PRETEND SHE’S HERE. Many of her stories focus on love, family and nature.

In PRETEND SHE’S HERE, Rice addresses issues such as trauma associated with the death of a loved one. A year prior to the starting point of the book, Emily’s best friend Lizzie Porter tragically died of cancer. Emily is thrilled when the Porters visit Black Hall and eager to catch up with Chloe, Lizzie’s younger sister. When she hops in the Porters’ new minivan she doesn’t suspect a thing. Hours later, Emily wakes up to find that her hair has been dyed black and contacts were placed in her eyes, transforming them from sea-blue to a deep green. Lizzie’s mother, desperately missing her deceased daughter, did the unthinkable: she kidnapped her daughter’s best friend and forces her to act as if she was the Porters’ beloved Lizzie.

"PRETEND SHE’S HERE has the type of storyline I dream of, a dark thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat begging for more."

Now Emily has to pretend she is Lizzie in order to protect herself and her family. Her good behavior is rewarded with permission to exit her room and watch television, while bad behavior means starvation and confinement. Emily knows that in order to keep her family safe from the threats Mrs. Porter has placed upon them, such as killing Emily’s real mother, she must play along with the fantasy. When she meets Casey and begins her new school as Lizzie, her life begins to take a turn for the better, but can she escape the ever-watching eye of Mrs. Porter?

PRETEND SHE’S HERE has the type of storyline I dream of, a dark thriller that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat begging for more. When I first picked up the book that is exactly what I got, action and mystery that kept me enthralled. As the book progressed, I became less and less impressed with the story, the pacing was strange and there was flashbacks that occurred at inappropriate times. Furthermore, there were many small details that didn’t add to the plot and were quickly forgotten, making them unnecessary to the novel.

I also thought it was difficult to relate to Emily, who was the main character and narrator throughout the book. In addition to a less than impressive timeline, I felt as if the story had a predictable ending that was drawn out and could have been condensed to a short epilogue. Granted that the ending was mostly predictable, there was one unexpected twist. I did enjoy reading about Emily’s friend Casey, and although I didn’t feel as if the romance was completely necessary, I did find his character to be particularly intriguing. Although he only ever knew Emily as Lizzie, he was able to come to the conclusion that there was something different and suspicious about her.

Another thing I enjoyed about PRETEND SHE’S HERE was the bond between Emily and her actual family, the Lonergans. The author painted a beautiful picture that illustrated the loving relationship between Emily and her family.

I would recommend this book to a mature young adult who is looking for a mystery novel that will have the reader wondering what comes next.

Reviewed by Mia M., Teen Board Member on March 19, 2019

Pretend She's Here
by Luanne Rice