“The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave
Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian
Owen and Hannah have been married for a year when he mysteriously disappears leaving behind a bag and a note reading: protect her. Hannah knows that the “her” in the note refers to his teenage daughter Bailey. Hannah tries her hardest to befriend the teen but feels like she will always be the unwanted stepmother. Now that Owen is missing both women need to work through their differences and try to puzzle out where he could have gone. And why he would have left them behind.
At the heart of the story is the question: Why does Bailey need protection? Hannah and Bailey have an interesting dynamic; the two always had Owen as a buffer but now that he is gone they are all the other has left. Watching the daughter who had her father’s love exclusively for over a decade deal with his new wife, a woman who I feel she would have resented no matter who she was, have to trust and rely on a person who isn’t her father is fascinating. I think the author described the emotional turmoil inside this teenager perfectly. As an adult I empathized with the stepmother, a woman who is overwhelmed by the disappearance of her husband but forced to keep it together for the stepdaughter who loathes her. Yes, it’s a thriller, but read it for the relationship between these two.