Book Look: Pippa

When I was approached to read and review this novel about a month ago, I was done with contemporary romance. I was over it. So when Pippa came across my email - billed as psychological suspense, I do believe, I was fresh off of reading The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and I was in the mood to have my world rocked again. I  really, really enjoy a story with unreliable narrators, or narrators with a warped sense of right and wrong.

I definitely got both of those things in Pippa, but the trouble is, I don't know if I necessarily like or agree with their portrayal.

I'm going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, because I really want you to read this and form your own opinions, but the author said she wanted an honest review and I'm never going to shy away from giving one (if you don't want an honest review, don't waste your time sending it out for advanced reviews).

Pippa is a story about a young girl growing up in poverty; her father is barely around, the mother - who is very obviously battling depression and probably PTSD - pops out to go to the food bank whenever she remembers she has a young child who needs to be fed, and acts as the sole provider and caretaker for Pippa. The novel takes you through her upbringing, from eight to sixteen, and you watch the young girl battle loss, gain friends, and find a way to establish a relationship with her father...I know that typically sounds like a good, happy story, but this one is not.

And you spend a lot of time waiting for the book to do something.

I got through 88% of the book and turned to my co-worker, trying to describe it. All of your assumptions about her parents are correct, but they're not proven until the tail end of the book - after the big twist that's supposed to, I dunno, show Pippa as some sort of psychopath? Like one of those little girls from the early 2000's horror movies that definitely have something wrong with them...but all I saw in Pippa was a deeply troubled girl who spent so much time wrapped up in "trying to please her daddy" that she never really developed as a person beyond that idea.

I think that's where the book lost me - I can only suspend my disbelief so much, you know? Pippa's character felt two dimensional to me, much like the doll she loved so much: she only had one end goal and things just kind of happened around her. You see and piece together all of these terrible things about her life and you keep hoping someone is going to call CPS, because surely they're not that blind, but no. That never happens.And Pippa never seems to grow up, she never seems to develop beyond the eight year old's mentality. Then the "twist" happens in the last ten percent of the book - which isn't ideal when there's no real climax in the middle to make it worth it.

Here's a traditional plot structure

Image result for plot structure
What seemed to happen was mostly exposition, I'd even call it an in-depth character study, and then the rest of the novel inched its way through rising action to come up with some sort of climax that leveled out into a plateau at the end. By the end of the novel I didn't really care what was going to happen to these characters because they felt like cardboard cutouts, I never really found any depth in them.

The novel had a lot of interesting ideas and tried to do a lot of things, but it never really managed to pull them all together and, instead, just kind of floundered. The writing is good, but I really found character and plot development lacking. None of these people felt real to me, the situation didn't feel real to me, I could never completely buy into it; not because I didn't want to, I really wanted to like this book. For fiction to be effective, there is some aspect of it that has to ring true - for me, this just didn't. I think it would really benefit from a new editor and a rewrite because the author is a good writer, but I think the story needs some direction or focus that I felt was lacking.


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