Not So Perfect Strangers is an intriguing, relatable, and tense domestic thriller with heavy themes and layers.
Not So Perfect Strangers by L.S. Stratton
Publication Date : March 28, 2023
Publisher : Union Square Co.
Read Date : March 21, 2023
Genre : Thriller / Domestic Thriller
Pages : 320
Disclaimer – Many thanks to publicist @SparkPointStudio for eARC.
This post contains affiliate links.
One fateful encounter upends the lives of two women in this tense domestic thriller, a modern spin on Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train that flips the script on race and gender politics.
“I’m a big believer that women should help each other, Tasha,” she says. “Don’t you think?”
Tasha Jenkins has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. Taking her teenage son with her, Tasha checks into a hotel the night before their flight out of D.C. and out of Kordell Jenkins’s life forever. But escaping isn’t so easy, and Tasha soon finds herself driving back to her own personal hell. As she is leaving, a white woman pounds on her car window, begging to be let in. Behind the woman, an angry man is in pursuit. Tasha makes a split-second decision that will alter the course of her life: she lets her in and takes off.
Tasha and Madison Gingell may have very different everyday realities, but what they have in common is marriages they need out of. The two women want to help each other, but they have very different ideas of what that means . . .
They are on a collision course that will end in the case files of the D.C. MPD homicide unit. Unraveling the truth of what really happened may be impossible‒and futile. Because what has the truth ever done for women like Tasha and Madison?
intriguing tense domestic thriller
Not So Perfect Strangers is an intriguing domestic thriller about two strangers who met by chance that changed their lives. Maddison and Tasha both wanted to end their marriages but differently.
Tasha was stuck in an abusive relationship. She was literally a prisoner in her house and she couldn’t leave her 17 yr old son behind with her abusive husband. She often thinks life would be better without her husband. Maddison suspects her husband is cheating on her. She didn’t want to settle down with prenup money by divorce, she wanted him dead but not by her hand. When fates bring them together, Maddison thinks they can solve each other’s problems and get away with it. But it goes down the hole, making it a huge complicated mess.
I absolutely enjoyed the plot. Writing is gripping and steady-paced with alternative perspectives and intermittent ‘before’ and ‘now’ chapters. ‘Now’ chapters made the ‘before’ chapters even more intriguing.
There are many layers in the book- racism, abusive relationships, abandonment issues, the impact of abusive childhood on the person, religious and spiritual abuse by parents, drug addiction, manipulation, stalking, trauma, and mother’s unconditional love.
Both women are developed. They came from different backgrounds. Tasha was a middle-class black woman while Maddison was a rich white woman. Their differences were shown throughout the book not just by financial and social status but also by race.
It was easy to feel for Tasha. Her portrayal as a person in an abusive relationship for many years is realistic. Her emotions, feelings, and thoughts are relatable and touching. I’m also happy author also included her therapy and support system (even though it wasn’t big), how she coped with her life for so long, and what made her not leave her husband sooner even though she could see red flags clearly. Religion played important role in her life. Even though I respect her thoughts and views, I was also frustrated to read her belief was one of the parts she couldn’t leave her husband and move on in life. (I think it might be called religious trauma syndrome)
I liked her spirit. It was amazing to see how she can be fiery and determined if pushed too far. I liked how she decided to make the right decisions and still it was sad to see how much she struggled with it and put pressure on her already chaotic life.
Maddison isn’t likable. She is cold, heartless, and cruel. She reminded me a lot of Bea from Stone Cold Fox. As her past was slowly revealed, I felt bad for her. No child should have to go through what she did. Religion also plays a big part in Maddison’s life. While religion holds Tasha back in Maddison’s case, it made her cold and cruel.
Tension is palpable throughout the book. Twists and turns are interesting. At some points, it looks predictable but the author had big surprises in the last 20% of the book. The end was perfect, clever, and out of the box. It made me change my mind about a particular character.
Why 3.5/4 stars-
Like I said, I was frustrated with Tasha at many points. I’m not a fan of the indecisive characters who would take ages to finally act on something they should have long ago.
What I didn’t exactly get is Ghalen. I couldn’t figure out how he can love his father and look up to him when he could see he beat and abuses his mother! How he couldn’t see wrong in him! I can’t believe it takes Tasha to word it and see a therapist to make him see how wrong his father was.
This book gives some really bad messages –
Don’t be kind to strangers and give them a lift.
Never trust the police.
Don’t tell the truth as people never believe it.
Never trust a friend.
Never trust an orthodox person or priest.
Overall, Not So Perfect Strangers is an intriguing, tense, and relatable domestic thriller with heavy themes and layers.
I recommend this if you like,
alternative POV and dual timeline
good twists and turns
unexpected and surprising ending
heavy theme and layers
Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,
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Just in case you missed,,,,
Weeza’s Great Escape by Katherine Cobb, Nadia Ilchuck (Illustrator) – Book Review
The Hoarder’s Widow (Widows #1) by Allie Cresswell – Book Review
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