Thursday, July 14, 2022

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

 

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is almost everything I love in a thriller. There aren't a lot of twists-- the main conflict reveals itself very early-- but it's the type of book that gets you emotionally invested in the characters, desperate to find out what happens. This book is the story of Grace and Jack, the perfect couple. Grace is the consummate hostess, a real life Stepford wife, and when she entertains, everyone is in awe of her grace and poise. They want to get to know the mysterious woman who charmed her good-looking husband into settling down permanently, but Grace never goes out alone. Only out with Jack.

It's clear from the beginning that something is wrong and that's because something is. Maybe you'll guess what it is and maybe you won't. That's part of the fun of it. I kind of ended up being shocked because I wasn't prepared for the reality of it. This book goes to some very psychologically dark places. Also content warning for a pretty horrible animal death. It's not gory or anything, but it's pretty traumatic and it sort of happens on page (or at least, the reveal of it does). It wasn't really done for shock, though, imo. This is not one of those "omg, I'm SO edgy" thrillers that gets off on toeing the line. It's brilliantly paced and brilliantly written and that's what makes it so disturbing.

I'm giving it four stars because I really, really wish that there had been some sort of smut or romantic element. I feel like thrillers have more of an emotional stake when the heroine is permitted to get down and dirty. I also wish that there was more backstory on the characters, particularly with Jack. We get to know about Grace and what her motivations are, but not as much about Jack. I also have mixed feelings about Millie. She's Grace's younger sister and she has Down's syndrome. There's a lot of unpleasant stuff surrounding her narrative, like their parents having a violently negative reaction to having a disabled child and trying to put her up for adoption until Grace physically harms herself to prevent it. It really sucked that the parents were so giddy about letting Grace become primary caretaker, and how eager they were to distance themselves from the child. I get that some people are not emotionally or psychologically equipped to care for a disabled child, but it's still unpleasant to read.

I do like that the author made Millie clever in her own way, though. I have met some people with Down's and many of them can be incredibly self-sufficient and clever. Millie was spontaneous and in some ways, a little childish, but I like that the author made a concerted effort not to resort to stereotypes with her. She felt real to me, based on my limited interactions with people with Down's syndrome, and volunteering in Special Ed. classes when I was younger. However, I do think the parents' reaction to her care might be triggering to the neurodivergent or parents of children with mental disabilities.

Overall, I loved this book. I finished it in one day. It's the type of book where, when I wasn't actively reading it, I still found myself thinking about it and wondering what was going to happen next. I'll definitely be checking out some of her other books soon!

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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