You Lost me at Flashback
I’ve noticed a trend lately in the books I’ve read or attempted to read. In fact, I’ve picked up two of them back-to-back. One was Apples Never Fall (Book One) by Liane Moriarty. The other was Everything We Didn’t Say (Book Two) by Nicole Baart. I’m 27% of the way into Baart’s book and I’m about ready to give up.
Both novels employ regularly occurring flashbacks to jump between past and present chapter after chapter. After chapter!!
Not that flashbacks are anything new or even this method of employing them. These two books made me realize it’s not for me.
In the case of Book One, there are multiple characters’ points of view jumping around in this manner. I give Moriarty credit because her story intrigued me enough to finish it and watch her tie everything up by the end. But I didn’t connect with or care about any of her characters and in some cases found them downright unlikeable, even though there were moments where I could relate to at least one of them. But there were so many characters and so much jumping around on the timeline it was hard to invest in any of them.
Book Two, however, I think by a quarter of the way in I should be interested in/care about the main character (I’m not) and intrigued enough by the story to continue. I’m not. And I think at least part of the reason is because of the way the story is unfolding between past and present.
What I know is the main character (June) has a 13-year-old daughter that she left with her parents to raise while she lived in another state. She sees the daughter rarely and is now back in the town she left and trying to reconnect with this kid. Plus, there’s an old murder mystery she wants to solve.
But…I. Don’t. Care.
I don’t care because I don’t know why she left her kid (and why she now, after all this time, wants to be the kid’s mom and have more of a relationship with her) and I don’t care who was murdered or why or what June’s involvement was or why she wants to solve it so badly now. Other than that her brother was/has remained a suspect.
There’s nothing wrong with Baart’s writing itself, but this flashback ploy just doesn’t work for me because ultimately, I don’t know enough about June to make me care about her and her choices. And since I don’t care a quarter of the way into the book, there’s no reason for me to keep reading.
Is there a reason these stories can’t be told chronologically even if that means the book is divided between past and present? It doesn’t seem so to me and I’m sure these authors have a reason for laying their stories out the way they did. But the method leaves me cold.
If seesawing flashbacks are now trending in storytelling, somebody please make it stop.