What is this about?: Nora’s search for the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago after a brutal assault left her in a coma. She woke up to find she was pregnant.
What else is this about?: The books sets about building who Nora is, her past which leads into something much bigger and entirely unexpected. As these things usually do, but this one is worth it, I promise!
Blurb: It begins with a phone call. Fifteen years ago Nora Watts gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Now Bonnie has vanished and when the police don’t seem to care, her desperate parents turn to Nora as a last resort.
Nora knows only too well what happens to missing girls, especially when they aren’t blonde or white enough. Despite herself, she sets out to find the daughter she’s never known protected only by her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.
As she plunges into her own dark past, Nora uncovers a violent conspiracy on a grand scale that will take her from the rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy mountains of the Canadian wilderness, and ultimately to a remote island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.
Eyes Like Mine is a book filled with restrained writing, even as Sheena Kamal takes readers through the life of someone who should be raging at the world. You’ll be raging at the world for her.
Nora, Nora, Nora
The story begins with Nora meeting Everett and Lynn, the adoptive parents of Bonnie, the daughter Nora gave up years ago. Bonnie has run away and they’re searching every avenue they can to find her. It seems she’d begun to look for her birth mother, never realising she was the product of a rape 15 years ago. Nora is shocked, but she’s also suspicious and from that point on Kamal takes us into Nora’s life, letting us see what happened to her 15 years ago, and letting us understand what she did to survive.
I feel like Nora is an example of rage, held tight and drifting through life for fear of getting hurt. She’s been hurt too much to let herself be vulnerable and she’s a loner as a result. Her only company is Whisper, her dog and the men who employ her as their research assistant, secretary and human lie detector.
That last isn’t ever explained very clearly, but Nora’s ability to see through BS and her straightforward way of talking cuts through a lot of scenes that had the potential to slow down a book in terms of pacing.
The case begins
Nora searches for Bonnie, despite what she tells her adoptive parents, and we get introduced to small cast of secondary characters that impacted her life, and who she works with now. She’s an alcoholic, so this includes her sponsor with who she shares a contentious and complicated relationship to say the least.
The focus here is always Nora, and through her we understand how to deal with the other characters – those she hates, wants to trust but can’t and those with whom she just gives up. They’re filtered through Nora, who rightly so deserves the most attention in this book – Nora’s charcteruisatioon is superb and as a result a steady beat of tension goes through the book. Kamal maintains that feeling, that something is just about to happen…
… and it’s bigger than you thought
What begins as an intimate case morphs into something bigger and more brutal, but Kamal never lets the focus and the intimacy afforded through Nora’s presence go. This is always about her, even while she’s making a larger commentary about life in Canada for it’s indiengous people.
This is the sort of book that makes you need a breather after you read it. For me, that’s the best kind.