Stash by David Klein just won't let me. The story centers around a suburban mother who is involved in a car accident where the other driver is killed. Although the wreck was caused by the other driver, the mother had just picked up a small amount of pot to smoke on vacation that week with her husband, which she does occasionally to unwind. The police find the pot and throw the book at her, trying to make her an example. The rest of the story deals with the various ethical dilemmas faced to the main character, her husband, and the effects of their choices on the people around them.
The back of my ARC described the book as a "psychological thriller" and I'm not sure that's really spot on with how I'd classify it. I was certainly hooked from the first page. And I felt the tension of the characters and was sucked into their world and really cared about what happened to them - but I'm not sure that "thriller" is the word I would use, since that usually conjures images of a psycho serial killer stalking a victim or something. While you are desperate to know the outcomes of the book, it's not in an "are they going to make it" kind of way.
I liked this one so much that I actually made some notes while I was reading of things I wanted to mention in the review.
The main theme of the book seemed to me to be the ripple effect of even small decisions. Each character in the book, at some point, makes a poor choice. They aren't terrible people - each one is very sympathetic, but the make bad choices. And, as the reader, we get to see how those choices affect the lives of so many people, even people the characters don't know. So that was pretty cool. I also really liked the ambiguity of the character. Sometimes you wanted to hate them, but they were also likable at times - they could be your neighbors, or your family, or even you.
The happy marriage between the main character and her husband, contrasted with the temptation of an affair faced by each. I really appreciated first of all seeing a happily married couple in a book. Usually in literary fiction no one is truly happy (Revolutionary Road anyone?) and there's all this marriage angst. I liked reading about a couple that still loved each other. AND I really appreciated the image of a happy, loving couple, both of whom face temptation. It was just very real to me that you can be so in love with your spouse, but still be drawn to attention from another person.
This one is a definite recommend. I also have to mention, the author has a list of his favorite movies on his website - one of which is The Return of Martin Guerre. I almost died. I watched this movie in French during high school ( Le Retourn de Martin Guerre) and have never forgotten it. I don't really remember anything about it other than a very wild party with villagers dressed in animal costumes - but it stuck with me forever. Good choice, David Klein! If you're interested, the first chapter is posted online here.
Thanks to Broadway Books for sending me a review copy! I loved it!