Aussie Book Review: Missing You by Kylie Kaden
“Missing You is a tantalising love story and a seductive suspense novel: ‘Our lives were built around the strength of a kiss between strangers. Yet seven years on, look where it led us . . .'
When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn't want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them.
But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility.
Until Ryan can't take it anymore.
Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick - and doesn't come back.
As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear.
Particularly when blood is found in Aisha's abandoned car . . .”
I was blown away by this, Brisbane-based author Kylie Kaden’s second novel. After reading her debut novel, Losing Kate, last year (my review here), I didn’t think she could get any better. Boy was I in for a surprise! As most of you that follow my blog know, I’ve never really enjoyed novels from the first-person perspective but, thankfully, our Aussie authors are showing me that they can get this point of view right and I’ve begun to embrace this manner of narrative with its sense of immediacy and intimacy.
In Missing You, I was taken on a suspenseful and alluring journey into the lives of Aisha and Ryan along with their high-needs son Eli and thoroughly enjoyed her exploration of human complexity and darkness.
When Aisha met Ryan at Uni, it was instant love, consummated by a mind-blowing kiss. Seven years later, even though Ryan didn’t want the classic suburban life with one point five children (or however much it is these days), they are married with one son, four-year old Eli, who is on the spectrum – and life has changed for them.
Ryan, in a management position feels that Aisha, a lawyer, is no longer the girl he met and Aisha feels much the same, preferring to see to the needs of their son first and foremost. After an argument that sees Ryan fleeing their home and Aisha seeking the comfort of her family, she goes missing after receiving a telephone call and telling her father that she is going to see a friend in need. When she doesn’t return home, the family is catapulted into turmoil – this is not like Aisha at all – she would never leave her son!
Kylie ratchets up the suspense when the police discover Aisha’s car with blood in it and her family begin to fear the worst. However, it is the events that follow that will have your stomach churning.
They say that the second novel is sometimes the hardest to write and, in the time that I’ve been reviewing, I’ve read many a book review where reviewers have been disappointed by an author’s sophomore attempt. For those of you who read Kylie’s first novel believe me when I say that, as an author, she has grown.
I really fell in love with Patrick, Aisha’s father who, usually a bit surly and unable to find a way to relate to his grandson, is given this opportunity to connect with Eli. Although initially he is somewhat unreliable with regard to certain aspects (which adds to the tension) due to him not being privy to Aisha and Ryan's innermost thoughts and interactions like the reader is, as we move through the story the couple's internal monologue and dialogue reveals all and the different viewpoints allow us to sympathise and gain a better understanding of all the characters.
Of course, a story like this has to have an antagonist and Kylie has superbly crafted hers. In actual fact she introduces two possibilities, intensifying the suspense factor and increasing the uncertainty of the plot and I commend any author who is able to make it impossible for me to distinguish exactly who it is until they are absolutely ready.
Cleverly constructed, captivatingly written and, at times poignant, I found it difficult to put this novel down and read it within a day. Just like Aisha and Ryan got under each other’s skin, I have no doubt that this book will creep under yours! Highly recommended.
I wish to thank Random House Australia for providing me with an eARC of this novel.
About the Author
Brisbane writer Kylie Kaden is a self-diagnosed bookworm and recovering chocoholic. Raised in Queensland, she spent holidays camping with her parents and two brothers at the Sunshine Coast, where much of Losing Kate was set. She now lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons. As the only female in a house of males, Kylie tops up her sanity by writing whilst her youngest naps (and the washing mounts). She is adamant the next addition to the Kaden household will be female…and canine.
Kylie graduated with an honours degree in psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000, but cites it helps little with meeting the challenges of parenting in the real world. She shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids.
Kylie knew writing was in her blood from a young age, using her brother’s Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Losing Kate took shape as she drank tea at the kitchen bench, often with a toddler on her lap and ABC Kids chirping in the background.