This is not my beautiful house!
Author: Kelley McNeil
I love a good mystery, especially one that looks like it might be a touch supernatural. Or at least a touch psychological. Kelley McNeil’s A Day Like This promised me both mystery and the haunting unreliability of memory. Sold!
Annie Beyers is living her best life. She has a loving husband and daughter and lives in her dream house in the country. Her little family has successfully escaped from the rat race of the city and she treasures the life they’ve built.
Everything goes haywire when Annie is taking Hannah to the pediatrician and has a serious car accident. She wakes up in the hospital to a new reality. Literally, a new reality. Nothing is as she remembers and it’s as if the life she cherished never existed.
With doctors and family telling her everything is a result of the head injury she suffered in the accident, Annie can’t let go of those vivid memories. A Day Like This is about her search for the truth. Is her brain cruelly damaged or is there more to her fragmented memory than she’s being told?
McNeil paints a good picture of Annie as she tries to fill in the blanks of her life. We come to know her but we are necessarily forced to love everything she does. She’s well developed and interesting.
The supporting characters are exactly that – supporting. They provide context to Annie’s story and round out her predicament. Most of what we learn about Annie comes from other people. Her husband, Graham, her sister, Marcie, and her assistant, Piper. Various people she consults as she tries to understand the vagaries of memory. Annie doesn’t know a lot about herself, so we learn as she learns.
I enjoyed the twists and turns of A Day Like This. McNeil steered away from heavy psychobabble and focused on character, making the story more about family than about potentially cumbersome theories of the mind. She couldn’t avoid it completely, but she incorporates Annie’s memory investigation into the flow of the book rather than pulling us away from her story for explanatory info dumps. It’s a tricky balance and she nails it.
As the plot threads pull together the book gets better. The end is lovely and poignant and took me by surprise. A Day Like This is a thoroughly satisfying mystery wrapped in a compelling story about memory, family, and perception.
– Sue Millinocket
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