Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
St. Martin’s Press
June 19, 2018
My Rating: 🍪🍪
This book was an odd juxtaposition for me. I couldn’t put it down while I was in the midst of it, and with less than 300 pages that meant that I whipped through it quickly. That being said, I wasn’t really all that INTO it. I’m an avid reader of thrillers, so anything new and noteworthy in the genre generally catches my eye and gets me excited, but sadly this is one of the less compelling ones I’ve delved into recently. The story starts with Finn and his girlfriend Layla pulling off at a rest stop while they are on vacation. Finn gets out of the car to go to the bathroom, and when he returns, Layla is gone. We learn from the get-go that this story, the one the reader and the police are fed, is not fully true. Finn therefore sets himself up as somewhat unreliable (and I do love an unreliable narrator!)
We pick up with Finn years later, when he has moved in with Layla’s sister, Ellen, and proposed to her (whatttt!). Shortly thereafter, Ellen and Finn begin to find Russian nesting dolls around the town and near their home, and even start getting packages in the mail containing the dolls. To Ellen, these dolls symbolize her relationship with Layla, as the two of them each had a set when they were younger. Finn and Ellen slowly realize that they must be coming from Layla, who is somewhere very much still alive. Finn even starts to get emails from someone claiming to be Layla, and attempts to get her to reveal herself to him.
Now, Finn is a pretty sucky person. He openly admits that given the chance to have Layla back, he would choose her over Ellen, whom he keeps the emails secret from. You know, the emails with her sister who she has believed to be dead for years. We also get some insight into what happened the night Layla went missing. It turns out that she admitted to Finn that she slept with someone else, and he went crazy to the point that she feared for her life.
Partway through the book, we also start to get some narration from Layla, although there is no insight into where she has been staked out. Now, as much as I wanted to know how this crazy love triangle was going to resolve, I found that I didn’t really care about Layla, or what happened to her. She was manipulative, and didn’t seem to have any interest in the wellbeing of her sister, who had finally found happiness after her loss. Maybe in that sense Finn and Layla were perfect for each other, both perfectly awful.
The big reveal at the end of this book is that Layla and Ellen are actually the same person. It turns out that Layla went back to her father’s house after the incident with Finn at the rest stop, and while she was there, her abusive father killed her sister, and she just kind of… took her place? I had so many issues with this. It wasn’t believable (I get that a lot of thrillers aren’t super believable, but this really seemed out there to me even in the context of her situation). Furthermore, I don’t understand how Finn would not have realized “Ellen” was the same woman as Layla. Paris describes Ellen as having different food preferences, mannerisms, and weight than Layla, but in reality, someone’s choice of breakfast foods would not be enough to convince me (or anyone, I hope) that they were a different person. I’m getting angrier at this book the more I think about this.
In the end, we realize that all of Layla’s sections were actually narrated by the person we believed was Ellen, and that ‘Layla’ was ‘re-emerging’ or something? I didn’t follow what kind of mental breakdown the author was trying to get at here, and at that point I didn’t care enough to try to figure it out. Despite the speed at which I raced through this book, it is not one I would be quick to recommend.
I would, however, recommend these Sea Salt Caramel Chip Chocolate Cookies. Hershey’s Sea Salt Caramel Flavored Baking Chips are a game changer! You can throw these guys into any standard cookie dough and your recipe is instantly upgraded! If you’re looking for an easy way to impress people with your baking skills, grab yourself a bag of these chips and they will do the job for you.