Happy New Years Eve!
I’m not really a New Years Eve celebrator, never have been. I always feel like it’s an overrated night that ends up being a disappointment if I try and make a big deal of it. The best New Years celebrations I’ve had have always been the understated and unplanned evenings. So that’s what I try to go for now and it’s exactly what I’ll be doing tonight. Plus, I’m old, I can’t deal with doing anything too strenuous haha.
Thank you to @bookouture for this advanced copy of The Ex Wives by @jenna_kernan in return for an honest review. The Ex Wives was published on 10th October 2022 and you can get a copy here.
Elana considers herself to have the perfect life. She hadn’t had an easy time of it in the past, but since meeting and marrying Jackson, life had taken a turn and she had everything she’d ever wanted and needed for her and her daughter Phoebe. Ok, Jackson may like to choose outfits for Elana and Phoebe, but he just likes nice things. He may not allow Elana to work, but who would want to? When they have the option to look after their daughter all day and run around in a nice car purchased for them by their caring husband.
But is Jackson truly the caring gentleman that Elana thought she fell in love with? When she discovers that Jackson has two ex wives, both of them with daughters (not Jackson’s children) and both girls went missing after the divorces, Elana starts to become suspicious. Suddenly, Jackson seems more controlling than considerate and Elana has the feeling that she and Phoebe could be in grave danger.
In order to safeguard Phoebe, Elana has no choice but to try and dig out the truth about Jackson and his past, but can she do it without Jackson finding out? If she can’t, how bad will the consequences be for Elana and Phoebe?
General Thoughts 🤔
I couldn’t bring myself to binge read the first 50% of this book. It was so tense and eerie, I had to read small sections and walk away from it. I say this in an extremely positive way. It made me feel so on edge, I had to put it down and have a break before continuing. I didn’t think I would finish this before the year was out, by once I got to the second half, I was so desperate to find out how things were going to pan out for Elana that I devoured the remainder of the book.
There is a lot of domestic abuse covered in this book and some of it is the under the radar, slow burning kind which is what I find the scariest. What this book reminded me is that it really can happen to anyone. You can think that you have found your soul mate, partner in everything and love of your life, but just small changes over a period of time can go unnoticed and before you know it, you’ve lost who you were. This petrifies me and my heart breaks for anyone who finds themselves in this situation.
My goodness, the worry and sadness I felt for Elana whilst reading this book was outrageous. I don’t think she ever expected to find herself in the situation she was in and it was very apparent to me that she had lost a strength that I think she had within her prior to Jackson. He zapped everything out of her and moulded her into this model wife that he could control. I think Elana felt like she had no escape route and I felt that for her too.
I’d like to take a moment to touch upon one of the sideline characters; Zoey. I am still undecided about how I felt about her. Could she have done more to help Elana? At first I thought she was completely in the dark but as the story progressed, I think she knew quite a lot. I’d love to know more about Zoey’s home setup and how things were behind closed doors in her marriage with Jackson’s brother as that may have answered some of my questions about Zoey’s actions (or lack of).
Writing Style ✍️
As I already mentioned, this book was extremely tense. I was on a knifes edge through nearly all of the first half of the book. It wasn’t even in your face violence, it was a quiet, menacing kind of tension. The author captured the feeling of what I imagine living with Jackson was like perfectly. I think she did a fantastic job of portraying a kind of domestic abuse that doesn’t include physical violence but is just as damaging.
The story followed a “now and then” timeline until the then caught up with the present and it became linear. I really liked this as it gave an idea of how Elana had changed since the beginning of her relationship with Jackson.
Conclusion & Scoring 🎖
This is the third Jenna Kernan book that I’ve read and I think that this one is my favourite. The tension was unbearable, the plot was heart breaking and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the characters in this story since I put the book down last night. If you don’t mind feeling uncomfortable, then this is a great psychological thriller to shake you up and have you on the edge of your seat the entire way through. I thought that I was done with reviews for this year, but I squeezed this book in and what a way to end my bookish 2022.