I just finished a book called Someone We Know by Shari Lapena and it was so mediocre and average that I’m not sure why I even finished it. It was strange. Like it was predictable, but the ending was unexpected. Even though there were lots of twists and turns, it was still unsatisfying.
Of course, it was one of my #whitewomanthrillers (can I just create this hashtag? I don’t know any other way of how to describe this genre. I feel like thriller isn’t specific enough and books like this by authors of color don’t get labeled as thrillers, so I’m stuck between this rock and a hard place) I’m not sure what ignited this fascination within me. I typically hate true crime or murder mysteries, yet here we are.
I don’t think I’ve finished a book that has left me so uninspired. I will admit that I quit a book right before this one and it was another #whitewomanthriller, The Wife Between Us. After a few chapters I couldn’t build empathy for any of the main characters and I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about their problems to continue.
This was definitely the case for Someone We Know. Their problems came across as so banal to me. A neighborhood full of cheating husbands, jealous housewives, and entitled teenagers don’t do it for me.
The most interesting concept about this book for me was how it demonized “normal” (and by normal I mean white, middle-class, suburban, heterosexual, cis-gender, able-bodied people who seem to be the default in our society, as if other kinds of people don’t exist or only exist as villains or charity cases to normal people). Wow, white people have secrets and bad things can happen in a quiet white neighborhood! This white-on-white crime is so sad.
The tagline for this book is “Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did . . .” If this was set in a black neighborhood or in the “hood” of course people aren’t expected to trust their neighbors. We are expected to anticipate the worst of them, doesn’t matter if we are white or black. We should have a healthy dose or mistrust for “those people”.
And I don’t want to spoil the ending, but if the killer was a person of color, they would have gotten punished, within the criminal justice system and society at large, much worse than what the person received in this book.
But what irked my nerves to the max was how the woman was killed was treated. I feel as though she wasn’t treated like a victim at all. She was MURDERED, but no one seemed to care too much that someone was killed. All the people in this neighborhood cared about was that she was killed in their neighborhood.
It’s as if she was a stain on their reputation. How dare she allow herself to be killed in their quiet neighborhood? It’s as if they thought she deserved it because she was beautiful and flirted with the men at that one neighborhood barbecue (I wanted to say cook-out, but I think that was too black for this description). Every time they talked about her, all they did was resent and slut-shame her, men and women. They had more sympathy for her husband, even if they suspected him of killing her.
I didn’t like not one of those characters. Maybe one of the moms because of her love for her son, but I guess I would call it respect more than fondness.
What’s a book you didn’t like but finished? Books for school definitely count (because I never finished books for school I didn’t like. Sparknotes was my friend in high school).