A balancing act in disparate qualities that comes off beautifully. The way the novel alternates the sinister with the normal is fascinating; childhood illness and school trouble with deep dark secrets and missing mothers ... Max and Gabe are wholly compelling characters who feel like real children instead of plot constructs, which is an authorial victory ... The plot is beautifully woven, and ramps the tension up step by step ... likely to strike a solid cord with anyone who’s loved a child, or anyone who simply likes a darn good mystery. Who you’ll side with in the end will be up in the air – it will leave you thinking, and tug on your heartstrings.
A cross between women’s fiction and a mystery. The mystery is what kept me reading ... the story does drag a bit, as too much of the pace is lost in descriptions of Jess’ daily routines, along with her thoughts and anger. But Baart manages to add nuggets of mystery to each chapter; the desire to know what Evan discovered and the circumstances surrounding his death had me hooked. The revelation of secrets happens gradually, only to be fully unveiled in the last three chapters, which I read frantically ... Despite the slower pace, You Were Always Mine is an interesting story that deserves to be read and talked about.
Writing in the vein of Liane Moriarty, Kimberly Belle, and Mary Kubica, Baart explores the toughest questions around motherhood, marriage, and the secrets we keep. Baart lets her protagonist be messy, paranoid, and frustrating, allowing new discoveries to come with surprising costs. Although the novel could benefit from tighter pacing, plenty of twists and turns propel the story forward.