Book Title and Author: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
Publication Date and Publisher: February 5, 2019 by Gallery Books
Genre: Domestic Suspense, Mystery
Pages: 320 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: November 7, 2018 (e-arc)
A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
Imagine being sound asleep when the jarring sound of the phone ringing awakens you and a voice tells you your teenage child has been badly hurt and you need to rush to the hospital as soon as you can. Yet, how can that be? It’s impossible, clearly a mistake, your mind tells you because you know your child is safely asleep right down the hall! You rush to check only to discover their bedroom empty…and your world quickly falls to pieces.
As a mother with teenage sons and a soon to be pre-teen daughter, this is absolutely one of my most vivid nightmares come to life, a worst-case scenario that made me completely empathize with Abi, one of the main characters in The Night Olivia Fell, who in the opening scenes of this engrossing and emotionally spell-binding domestic suspense novels gets a middle of the night phone call just like I described telling her that her daughter Olivia has been badly injured.
It’s a phone call that will forever change her life because once she gets to the hospital she finds out that Olivia is more than injured, she’s brain dead after falling off a bridge. Nothing can be done to save her. Abi is destroyed by the news since Olivia was her world, but there’s more to come–the daughter she thought she knew everything about is pregnant and must be kept on life-support until the pregnancy is viable.
The story is told through alternative narratives. We hear from Abi in the present day who doesn’t believe Olivia fell off the bridge after seeing a circle of bruises on her daughter’s wrist. She doesn’t care that the police have ruled her daughter’s fall an accident or that they are reluctant to the point of almost refusing to investigate because she’s on a hunt to discover what happened to her daughter by herself!
In flashbacks from months back leading right up to the moment she ended up on the bridge, we hear from Olivia, who was a teenage girl full of life, dreams, love, and hope for her future as she was getting ready for college and a bright future. I loved getting to know Olivia through her sections because she was such a sweet, bright, realistically portrayed teenager, but it just made it harder emotionally as I continued to read knowing her fate.
Christina McDonald was excellent in portraying Abi’s pain at the loss of her daughter, and I cried as I felt it along with her. I think one of the saddest moments in the book was when Abi breaks down after her sister Sarah talks about how much closer it is until the baby is born and Abi has to tell her that’s the day Olivia dies! How can she be happy about her grandchild being born when it means the death of her daughter…I wept and wept at that part. Abi is a character that will stay with me for a long, long time.
This character-driven novel unfolds perfectly. It’s emotional, tragic, and sinister domestic suspense at its best, and I’m extremely impressed that this is McDonald’s debut! Although the mystery involving Olivia was one I figured out fairly early, there are plenty of twists and red herrings along the way that will make you look at every character once or twice with suspicion! And there were other sinister things going on that tied in with the mystery that made me go “oh, now that I didn’t expect”!!
The Night Olivia Fell is a highly emotional read that is perfect for those who like a lighter suspense novel although it’s filled with tension and drama. It’s an addictive read that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it! I can say with 100% certainty that I’ll be watching closely for McDonald’s next book! I highly recommend you pick this one up–it releases in February 2019!
** A huge thank you to Christina McDonald, NetGalley and Gallery Books for an ARC copy to read in exchange for my fair and honest review. **