Review | Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

“I forget things—I know that—but I’m not mad. Not yet. And I’m sick of being treated as if I am. I’m tired of the sympathetic smiles and the little pats people give you when you get things confused, and I’m bloody fed up with everyone deferring to Helen rather than listening to what I have to say.” 4.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: dementia, suitcases, compact mirrors, peach cans, zucchinis, colorful birds, sticky notes, red lipstick, antiques, a crazy woman and a lot of secrets to unfold.

Wow, that was… unexpected. Unexpectedly amazing. I started this book without even knowing what it was about and I’m so happy I decided to read it. It’s one of those books I know I will never forget – no pun intended, I promise.

What makes this book so interesting is that it’s not only a mystery book with two different timelines, but the person who is trying to decipher it is a woman suffering with dementia. So on one side you want to unfold the mystery, but on the other side you get a good glimpse of what it is like to suffer from such a horrible disease. I really want to approach each thing separately because there’s so much I want to talk about.

Let’s start with our main character and her memory problems. I’m not going to lie, it was heartbreaking to watch Maud so closely and be a part of her daily life. Maybe it’s because I have someone in my life that suffers from the same condition, but Maud’s story hit me like a ton of bricks. And I cannot stress this enough, but I was so surprised with the representation because it’s so accurate! I have to applaud the author because it’s more than obvious she put in a lot of effort to put together this amazing, complex character. It was mind blowing to me how she was able to put together this experience for the reader. From the moment you get into the book, you know as much as Maud. And that’s exactly the problem. Maybe Maud knows about what happened to Elizabeth or maybe she doesn’t… you only know what Maud knows. The story is told in first person and it was so well made that you can only understand what happened in the past with the intervention of secondary characters like her daughter, police officers and her carers. For example, when Maud said she wanted to make a toast because she hadn’t eaten all day, the carer would remind her she ate almost an entire loaf of bread that same day because she won’t stop eating. It’s crazy, but so good! So don’t worry if you feel confused or you don’t understand what’s going on at first… just keep going, I promise it’s worth it. It’s meant to be confusing and Maud is supposed to be unreliable.

Now the mystery the book revolves around. I honestly couldn’t even think of how this book could possibly end. I often wondered throughout the book if I could really trust Maud and her memory. I think my main questions throughout this book were “is Elizabeth really missing?”, “is she dead?”, and also “did her son do something to her?”. This mystery kept me entertained until the end! And I was very satisfied with the ending, things really do come full circle!

On a smaller note, I also appreciate the little illustrations presented before the beginning of each chapter. Small details like this add something special to the book.

I have to admit this book took me by surprise. I never thought this would end the way it did and I kept guessing what was going on until the very end. I recently found out this has a movie adaptation and I’m very curious about it, but I don’t know if I have the courage to watch it to be honest! The book was very well executed, it’s very interesting, the pace is great and I can’t recommend it enough.

xoxo, Neide

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