Mira, September 20, 2016.
In 2003, a sixteen-year-old girl named Rebecca disappeared on her way home from work, just steps from her family home. Eleven years later, a girl claiming to be Rebecca is arrested for shoplifting in a nearby town. Although we know from the start that this second girl is an imposter, she manages to infiltrate Bec’s life surprisingly well. The fake Bec, who remains nameless throughout the novel, has her own issues, and the missing girl’s identity is a perfect place to hide.
The imposter Bec fully expects to get caught – she hopes her lie will at least get her out of the shoplifting charge – and she is more surprised than anyone when Bec’s parents and twin brothers welcome her into their home. Although Bec’s best friend Lizzie eventually realizes that she is not who she says she is, Lizzie cannot understand why no one else is questioning who she is. Meanwhile, the fake Bec begins to feel comfortable with her new family, thinking that she will be able to start a new life with them. She is a bit of a sociopath, and it’s hard to empathize with her, but it’s pretty entertaining to listen in on her thought processes.
Interspersed with Rebecca’s new life are flashbacks to the summer when the real Bec disappeared. At sixteen, she was working at a local fast-food restaurant, having fun with her friends and crushing on her coworker. It all seems like fun, but there is an underlying creepiness. Strange things start to happen to Bec, such as blood in her bedroom, unexplained blackouts, and an ominous feeling of being watched. The same weird feeling starts to creep up on the imposter Bec, and at the same time in alternating chapters, both girls realize that their biggest threat may be coming from someone closest to them.
Only Daughter is a disturbing thriller, with fairly good writing and an interesting plot – unfortunately, it is just unbelievable overall. It was a major effort to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the story, although that didn’t stop me from reading as fast as I could to find out what happened in the end. The past and present points of view work perfectly in tandem to enforce the storyline and elevate Bec’s fears. The novel is infused with an eerie atmosphere, but the ending kind of came out of nowhere – it needed just a bit more build up in the right direction. There were quite a few loose ends, and the whole premise was pretty impossible overall, but it was still a fun, entertaining read.
I received this novel from Mira and Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.