Thursday 18 November 2021

The Missing Hours by Julia Dahl #TheMissingHours @juliadahl @FaberBooks #BookReview


From a distance, Claudia Castro has it all: the famous family, the trust fund, thousands of Instagram followers, and a spot in NYU's freshman class. But then one drunken night everything changes.

Her memory hazy, Claudia cuts herself off from her family, seeking solace in a new friendship, but when the rest of school comes back from spring break, Claudia is missing.

The Missing Hours by Julia Dahl was published in paperback on 4 November 2021 by Faber. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

This is the kind of book that you can read in a couple of sittings. Just over 250 pages and gripping. Filled with characters who are, in the main incredibly unlikeable, but perfected created, it's a story of our times. A story that looks at the most wealthy and the most privileged in society, we see that despite being high standing, they can become victims. We also see that power and money, and connections can alter the facts, and can make things appear different, or disappear. 

Claudia Castro is wealthy. Her family are famous, she's big on Instagram and she's currently studying at NYU. The story opens as Claudia wakes up, the morning after the night before. She remembers nothing at all about the evening, but the evidence of what happened to her is clear. No underwear, damp clothing, pain. 

Julia Dahl details just how Claudia deals with this. It's probably not how most of us would choose to do it, but who really knows? It's an incredible insight into a world of entitlement and spoilt rich kids, and at times it's difficult to read. It is grim, and grubby and emotionally draining. I don't think the reader is expected to like Claudia very much, she doesn't do a great deal to endear herself to us, however, there is no doubt that what happened to her is wrong. Does she deal with it in right way? What is the right way?

Told in various voices, this is not just a story of assault, it's also a terrifying tale of revenge and retribution. Claudia is used, but she's also a user, and it becomes clear as we learn more and more about her background and family that this is most certainly learned behaviour.

It's a clever and timely book. Chilling, yet gripping. Grubby and dark. A difficult subject dealt with very well. Recommended. 

Julia Dahl was born and raised in Fresno, California. After almost 20 years in New York City, she
now lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and son.

Dahl began her career as a journalist working as a fact-checker at Entertainment Weekly. Since then, she has been an editor at Marie Claire, a freelance reporter at the New York Post, the deputy managing editor of The Crime Report, and a crime and justice reporter for CBS News.

She now teaches journalism at NYU.

Dahl's first novel, INVISIBLE CITY, was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and won the Barry Award, the Shamus Award, and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. INVISIBLE CITY named one of the Boston Globe's Best Books of 2014, and has been translated into eight languages.

Twitter @juliadahl

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