Book Review: Don’t Turn Around – Jessica Barry

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

About The Book

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America.

Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something.

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…

My Review

You know how sometimes you start reading a book expecting it to be one thing and then it turns out it is something entirely different? Well, Don’t Turn Around was one of those books.

It’s about two women, Cait and Rebecca who are travelling across America together for reasons not immediately clear. The book opens with Cait sitting in her beat up Jeep at midnight, waiting outside Rebecca’s imposing home for her to make an appearance. The clock ticks on and there isn’t any sign of Rebecca, until suddenly the door opens and she scurries out to the car under the cover of darkness. This is the first time the women have met, they are complete strangers but Rebecca is has pull all of her trust in Cait.

They can’t be more different. Rebecca is a beautiful, polished woman married to a man running for Congress. She is wealthy, mixes with the upper-echelons of Texas society and is incredibly well put together. Cait is a young woman who works two jobs, driving women like Rebecca to safety and working at bar in short shorts, a cropped t-shirt and stetson hat serving drunk men more beer hoping for enough in tips to cover her rent. In the little spare time she has she is a writer, sending pitches to editors of print and online magazines hoping for her big break.

They journey through Texas towards New Mexico. It is the middle of the night, it is pitch black, there is nothing but desert around them and suddenly a truck looms in the rear-view mirror. Its lights are on full and it is speeding towards them. Somebody is after them? But who? And why? Well, if I told you that it would make for a very boring read indeed. What I can tell you is that both of these women have secrets, not just little ones either. They’re the sort of ones which upend lives and are devastating and whoever is driving this vehicle could be after either one of them.

This is a real thrill of a book which touched on a myriad of themes and took me in a direction that I wasn’t expecting at all. At its heart is a story about two incredibly strong women whose bravery and tenacity knows no bounds. Barry does an incredible job at building the stories of Rebecca and Cait and allowing us to see what motivates them and to see what has led them to be in a car together. They’re both phenomenally well written, particularly Cait who is just so ballsy and I was fully invested in both of them and their plights.

It is an incredibly tense read and it sent goosebumps up my arms on more than one occasion. I think most women would find the prospect of being on a dark road in the middle of the night being chased down by an unknown predator absolutely blooming terrifying and this terror is written with such a deft touch that it felt incredibly real. This is a game of cat and mouse, but who exactly is doing the chasing?

This is so much more than a psychological thriller, it is a book which examines some huge issues and shines a light on some uncomfortable truths. Much of the issues examined are rooted in reality and my heart broke for the women who were forced into difficult situations at the hand of men. I know I am being cloak and dagger about the subject matter, but I really don’t want to spoil the s book for future readers. Suffice to say it is emotive, thought provoking and handled incredibly sensitively.

Don’t Turn Around is an absolute page turner of a book – I read it one sitting. Believable nuanced characters, a thrilling story, great plotting and great writing make this a book I wholeheartedly recommend.

Where You Can Buy It

My thanks to Vintage Books and Graeme Williams for supplying me with a copy of the book.

Don’t Turn Around is out now in ebook and is published in paperback today!

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