Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

This is not my first rodeo with Lisa Unger but In the Blood is definitely my favorite. The titles I've read Black Out and Beautiful Lies pale in comparison to this title. I'm all for a good psychological thriller and In the Blood definitely fit the bill.

Lana Granger is college student who's soon to be graduating. Because of her focus in psychology she volunteers at a school for troubled children named Fieldcrest. It is here her professor shows her a posting for a job as a nanny. He convinces her that she's done great work as a counselor and should take on this job since her trust fund will soon be off limits until she is 30.

Lana meets Rachel Kahn, the mother of a disturbed/troubled child named Luke. Rachel expects Lana to run from the job as a nanny after she goes into the whole history of her sons past. She tells Lana that Luke has been diagnosed many times with ADHD, manic depression, bipolar disorder, and a host of other mental illnesses. This doesn't scare Lana away. She actually is inviting the challenge into her life because of her own history. But what exactly is that history?

Because Lana is a person of so many lies, she's the primary suspect when her roommate Rebecca goes missing. She was the last person seen arguing with her at the time of her disappearance. With the pressure mounting the many lies she has told becomes a source of her own anguish and she isn't sure anymore what happened either. It doesn't help that someone wants to expose her and her many lies.

Lisa Unger introduces us to a character who has some serious issues. And given her family biological makeup we know she's capable of anything. Lana also shares the narrative with a diary. We don't know who's diary this is so I won't spoil that her at all. This diary suggests disorders I've never even considered or heard of. Before, I'd never heard a infant referenced as being High Demand. I assure you this exists. I'm sure all the parents out there are like DUH... but seriously, I didn't know this was even an issue.

Lana's insight into the pysch field makes her the perfect narrator. She's aware of human behavior and how that relates to the people in her life. Each character is analyzed with such viridity that it's easy to see the amount of depth they have. This also leads us to realize that Lana isn't all knowing with her own self. We're only sure that something in her past has caused her to be emotionally underdeveloped and in need of finding herself.

I wish this weren't a review copy because I don't think I turned a page without highlighting a passage. Lisa Unger will reel readers in from page one with details about human behavior and never let go. I can't shake questions from my mind that have since stayed with me upon finishing the novel. How has circumstances reassembled me into the person I am today? When do we stop hiding from who we really are? What's really the difference between choice and reaction? What happens when we don't find the answers we're looking for?

There is so much that can be talked about in this book but I feel that every point I want to discuss in this review leads me to giving away clues that are best led to by the author. Sure there is a lot that was predictable and expected but the characters, especially Lana, are interesting enough to keep readers invested in this novel. In the Blood is an intense psychological thriller that will have readers wondering what's in the their blood that causes them to act as they do. I highly recommend this title.  ****

Copy provided by Simon & Schuster via Netgalley

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