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Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date of Publication: 17th May 2018

Date of Review: 11th December 2018

When you think you’re safe, YOU’RE NOT.

When you think the past is over, IT ISN’T.

When you think know someone, YOU DON’T.

When you think you’ve guessed this twist, YOU HAVEN’T.

One moment will change three women’s lives forever.

My Review

OMG the twists and turns in this rare gem of a read made for one hell of a roller-coaster ride! The story centres around Lisa; a seemingly ordinary, loving, single mum whose priority is that of her only child. We learn early on that Lisa is haunted by the death of a young boy but just how she is connected to him isn’t revealed until about a quarter of the way into the book.

Lisa’s daughter is sixteen-year-old Ava. Ava belongs to a swimming club where she is part of a close-knit group of four girls who she calls ‘my bitches’. The eldest in the group is Jodie. Ava has a close affinity with Jodie as they both have issues with their mothers. Ava because Lisa is claustrophobic and overprotective, and Jodie because her mother is never around. Ava has a boyfriend too, but she’s getting fed up with him and has become infatuated with a ‘mystery man’ who she has been chatting to online.

Lisa’s best friend is Marilyn. To the outside world Marilyn has the perfect life but she carries a secret that she hides even from her best friend.

When Ava is thrown into the spotlight through an act of bravery, she unwittingly uncovers Lisa’s secret past (a past that Ava knew nothing about). At this point, Ava already has issues with her mother but now she hates her more than ever, and escaping with the ‘mystery man’ she has met online is the only thing that keeps her going. When Ava goes missing the plot really starts to thicken and a whole web of lies and deceit begin to worm their way into the story.

There are so many shocking twists in this book I could talk about but I don’t want to give any spoilers. There are, however, two main things that make this psychological thriller stand out. Firstly, whilst there are times when you will hate the protagonist for some of the things she has done, the author has developed the character so thoroughly and given her such an utterly compelling story, you can’t help but empathise with her too. Secondly, this characterisation is so tightly interwoven into the skilfully structured plot, one minute you will want to throw the book against the wall and the next you will almost set the pages on fire where you are turning them so fast.

As well as being shocking, heart-breaking, and horrific, Cross Her Heart is also a story of love and true friendship. Lisa isn’t the only one who has been well characterised; Marilyn is fabulous and everybody should have a friend like Marilyn!

In the same fast-paced style as the overall plot, the climax and the conclusion come in fairly quick succession, resulting in one of my most satisfying reads of 2018. I would recommend this book for anybody who likes Louise Jensen or Jane Shemilt.

Under Literature Love’s rating scheme,

this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

This means:

I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.

I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now!

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