Outrun the Dark

Outrun the Dark - Ruthie Toombs I'm not sure how to classify this book. Amazon just puts it under 'Contemporary Women'. It is almost equal parts family drama and equal parts psychological thriller. Not the usual mix we find in lesfic. Normally, its either one or the other. Hats off to the author for this bold plot choice, and kudos for doing both genres justice.

Lee Stein is a typical forty-something housewife going through the pangs of sending her last child off to college. She's a stay-at-home mom and suddenly not having anything to distract her, she is filled with sadness and loneliness. Not just that. The author saddles her with a ton of issues. Philandering husband. Uncaring parents. Lack of true friends. Unresolved guilt from past trauma. So she takes to running and coffee. And literally runs into Abby. They hit it off right away but Lee is married, so there's a lot of drama and angst there (box of tissues recommended).

I love the author's use of first person POV for Lee--it's perfect to illustrate her conflicting emotions, her fears, her love for her children. It is at once amusing and frustrating, that she keeps thinking one thing, but then says or does completely the opposite. Her inner voice is brutally frank, ranting and raging at the unfairness of life and the treachery of her husband, but her outer demeanor and speechis carefully controlled to conform to society's standard of the perfect PTA mom and dutiful wife--dignified, respectful, and always putting the family-first. The book is about her journey to the light--about loving herself, and letting go. It is also a tribute to moms everywhere, who've always had to put the family first before themselves. A very well done coming-out-late-in-life story. But there's more.

Abby seems to be the perfect woman to help Lee learn to love herself and to start living life. But she comes with baggage--a very chilling and sinister one. The build up to the thriller part is well integrated into the plot so it didn't feel jarring or contrived. And it all leads to a gripping, edge-of-your-seat final act.