What if you realized that your whole life had been a lie orchestrated by those you trust the most? D.M. Barr asks this very question in her new book, Saving Grace (Black Rose Writing). The answer is made clear in this psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down.
Grace Rendell has suffered from mental health issues her whole life, and as a result is heavily medicated, greatly restricted in her day-to-day life, and reliant on her husband, Eliot, and her longtime psychiatrist Dr. Leighmann for support in almost everything she does.
Fed up and unhappy with the way her medicine makes her feel, Grace decides to go off it, and is thrilled with how clear-headed and alert she feels without it. Hearing rumors that Eliot is having an affair, Grace quickly decides that he is just waiting for her wealthy father to die and then plans to take his share of her inheritance and leave her. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we unravel the mystery that is Grace’s carefully constructed life alongside her.
Of course, as the parts of the story that are told from Grace’s perspective are coming from someone we’ve repeatedly been told is mentally unstable, this creates an element of uncertainty for the reader. She is highly sympathetic, but since the basis of our knowledge about her is built on the “fact” of her mental illness, this makes her an unreliable narrator, and we question everything we see through her eyes. This makes the story even more gripping as it is harder to anticipate what will happen next and if we can even trust Grace’s description of it.
When she uncovers more and more secrets about her past and family, Grace turns to writing and makes a plan to escape once and for all. Assembling a core group of allies, including a well-known author and her family, an established poisons expert, and her father’s latest girlfriend, Grace starts to figure out the real plot that had sparked her suspicions. These characters, though there are many different people involved, are all well drawn and even the peripheral characters play important roles and are given detailed characterization.
What she comes across (no spoilers!) shakes Grace’s worldview, and with the support of her new friends, she takes dramatic steps to right the wrongs she realizes have piled up over the years. Her journey elicits real emotion, and we become deeply invested in her story as we figure out the real story behind what we are initially told.
Throughout, this story remains a true mystery with plenty of twists and turns that will keep readers engrossed until the very end. The final twist in the last few pages of this novel is also shocking, providing one last surprise before the very satisfying ending.
Touching on the themes of family, relationships and personal independence throughout, Saving Grace is not only an intense thriller, but also an engagingstory about the value of finding true friends and a chosen family.
By day, a mild-mannered salesperson, wife, mother, rescuer of senior shelter dogs and competitive trivia player (Go Penguins!) happily living just north of NYC. By night, an author of sex, suspense and satire.
D.M. Barr’s background includes stints in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations, financial services and real estate. She was, for a long and happy time, an award-winning travel magazine writer and editor. Then kids happened. And she needed to actually make money. Now they’re off doing whatever it is they do (of which she has no idea since they won’t friend her on Facebook) and she can spend her spare time weaving tales of debauchery and whatever else tickles her fancy.
Her other books are Expired Listings, which is a psychological thriller/real estate satire and Slashing Mona Lisa, which is romantic suspense concerning a vendetta against the diet industry.
Jane is a rising senior at William & Mary, where she studies English and Chinese, participates in the W&M Wind Ensemble, gives campus tours and volunteers at the local animal shelter. Her work has been published in Seventeen, Women’s Health, Small Business Journal, W&M Blogs, and W&M News. When she’s not reading or writing, Jane enjoys traveling, playing the saxophone, drinking matcha and exploring the outdoors with her dog.