Behind Her Lives by Briana Cole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What I liked most about this book was the clever plot. There were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing to the very end. That said, in the end I felt disappointed with this book. The writing was very uneven – quite good at the beginning but deteriorating as it continued. This included the proofreading, which allowed numerous errors such as wrong word (off for of), mixed tenses, omitted words, and commas scattered in random, odd places.
The story is a mystery. The main character, Deven, is called upon to identify a body as her half sister Kennedy, but she doesn’t think it is her sister. Deven is black, something I didn’t pick up on at first since there was no physical description given of her. The cover picture is the profile of a black woman, but is obscured by two such images overlaid on each other and the title print over that. With straight hair, her race was not obvious at a quick glance, but perhaps I was just unobservant. In any event, the cover picture was of Kennedy, not Deven, and with different fathers, they could have been of different races. Her race shouldn’t matter, but as the story went on, it seemed rather important. At one point Deven mused that she couldn’t marry outside her race. That made me assume she was white and thinking about a black man, when in fact, it was the opposite. The dialog became “blacker” as it went on, or at least it seemed that way to me; e.g. I had to look up the word “locs.” The characters became rougher. At the beginning, it was nurse, doctor, hospital setting, but then some shady characters fell into the mix and everyone, even Deven, developed a filthy mouth toward the end.
Deven often did not behave in remotely logical ways. She decided to try to find her sister by herself, often withholding critical information not only from the police, but from others trying to help her. She would run off to confront someone, even after being told to let the police do it, and as she arrived, wished she had called the police instead, then even when confronting someone who could be dangerous, had no plan as to what she would say or do. She would get important calls or texts and not read or listen to them until much later. She also spent no time at work for days and days. There was a pregnancy inserted into the plot for no reason I could determine as it disappeared from the plot line as quickly as it appeared. Though I can’t recommend it, the mystery itself was intriguing enough to keep me reading, and it was logically resolved in the end.