I discovered Lisa Jewell when I picked up The House We Grew Up In last year, a story about a dysfunctional family with a matriarch who is a hoarder, and I couldn’t put it down. I took the book with me to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to stop reading. Jewell has the rare ability to create compelling characters and twisty plotlines that hook me from the first sentence. I Found You, her latest novel, is no exception.
The third person narration initially switches between Alice, a harried single mother of three who lives in a cottage in Ridinghouse Bay on the coast of northern England, and Lily, a 21-year-old Ukranian newlywed who has just moved to London to live with her British husband. Alice has a hard time keeping her family organized on a good day, and when she finds a lost man on the beach, her life becomes even more chaotic. The man is suffering from dissociative amnesia and doesn’t remember his name or where he comes from. Rather than let him sleep outside in the rain, she invites him stay in her guesthouse and begins to call him Frank. Meanwhile, Lily waits at her flat in London for her new husband to arrive home from work, but he never does. She is forced to navigate the police system in her new country and is frantic to find out what happened to her husband. To make the story even more complicated, Jewell also includes chapters about two teenagers, Gray Ross and his sister, Kirsty. During their summer holiday in Ridinghouse Bay twenty years earlier, they met a mysterious older boy named Mark Tate. The events of that summer unfold in parallel with the current day story. I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of the roller coaster ride as I tried to piece together how the past events fit together with the present story.
I won’t reveal more of the plot so you can experience this book with fresh eyes, just as I did. Though Jewell creates many characters, each one is well developed, interesting, and realistically flawed. Their backstories are complicated and their relationships with each other feel real and imperfect. I can’t wait to pick up another Lisa Jewell book. I may even take a swan dive into her deep backlist this summer while I impatiently await the release of her next novel.
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