REVIEW: BLACK-EYED SUSANS, BY JULIA HEABERLIN

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What would your life be like after a traumatic event, in which you were found in a field with the remains of other girls, covered in Black-Eyed Susans? Would you find it hard to remember what happened?

Tessie (Tessa) Cartwright is that one remaining survivor, and for a while afterwards, she has lost her vision, and not just her memory. But the vision returns, even though the memories are still missing.

The grown-up Tessa has a teenaged daughter, Charlie, aged fourteen, and she is determined to protect the life she has. But will the newest efforts by the attorneys allow her to do this? The convicted killer, Terrell Darcy Goodman, may not actually be the killer. Efforts abound to find evidence to free him. Tessa herself is beginning to wonder, since someone is planting Black-Eyed Susans beneath her window…and leaving strange notes.

Narrated in the POV of young Tessie, from 1995, and present day Tessa, the story carries us along, feeding us bits and pieces of moments that will surely keep us guessing.

Why has her best friend Lydia, from her teenaged years, gone missing? Has something happened to her? More and more red herrings crop up, making us wonder about everything we thought we knew. Toward the end, the story switches into Lydia’s POV, creating more doubt in the reader’s mind.

Set in Texas, with Tessa living in a bungalow in Fort Worth, we can see and feel the world around her as she struggles to move on, while trying to recapture the past. And all the while, what we believed about friends and trusted ones is lying in wait, ready to strike at just the right and convenient time. A riveting tale that I could not stop reading, “Black-Eyed Susans” earned five stars…and was unforgettable.

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