Hear Me, by Julia North, opens with a prologue so compelling, a reader would be able to do nothing but turn the next page. A dead woman, speaking from the grave, trying to figure out how she died. Following that, we meet Melissa (Lissa) who is heading into rehab after another drunken one-night stand. As Lissa enters a rehab center, with the help of her sisters, she navigates through her recovery until tragedy strikes and her sisters are forced to try and pick up the pieces. At its core Hear Me is a story of dichotomies; life and death, addiction and sobriety, racism and the fight for justice. I’m just not sure if it worked for me.
To start, Hear Me is set in South Africa. I don’t know a lot about South Africa (the history or the culture) so some of the book was over my head and I had to spend some time googling some things. Although I did find some of the history interesting, it felt like it belonged in a different book.
The book is narrated partially in the present during Melissa’s rehab stay and the rest is flashbacks to the past as she goes through her recovery and forced to visit her childhood and incidents of her past. I did like this form of narration and felt like it helped to set a general ominous tone for the novel. Now, the first third of the book, I was enjoying but then this one kind of went all over the place. I had trouble following the plot, didn’t really understand the relevance to many of the events. I think I understand what the author was trying to achieve, but the execution ended up feeling as if I was reading several different novels all mushed into one.
I don’t think I would call this one a mystery or a suspense novel. It reads a bit like contemporary women’s fiction with a political twist.
I gave it 2/5 stars.
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.