Originally published: 18 Apr 2019 (Paperback 3 Oct 2019)
Author: J P Pomare
Published by: Sphere
Length: 396 pages
Reading dates: 4-7 October 2019
Doubting what you see is a very odd experience. And doubting what you remember is also a pretty odd experience, because some memories come with a very compelling sense of truth about them, and that happens to be the case even for memories that are not true.
The story opens with 17 year old Evie and her Uncle Jim arriving in Maketu, New Zealand having fled from their home in Melbourne. Something terrible has happened: Evie doesn’t remember what and Jim tells her he is hiding her away to protect her from the terrible thing she did.
But what she does know is that Evie is not her real name. And that Jim is not her Uncle.
In the isolated cabin that is now their home, Evie must try to fix the pieces of her memory together to begin to remember the events that led her there.
I found this book utterly captivating. It completely drew me in, as for the majority of the book, I had no clue as what was going on or who to trust! As the story opens it transpires Evie (or Kate as she was known in her previous life) seems very disturbed and Jim seems to want to protect her and care for her, taking her to the doctors to get her some tablets to calm her, wanting to make sure she eats and sleeps well, and to protect her from the outside world for her own good.
The story is told in a series of before and after chapters. The before chapters gradually reveal to us what Kate’s life was like as a typical teenager back in Melbourne. Her mum died when she was a child and her dad, a former sports star seems quite strict. When she meets Thom at her swimming club, she falls hard for him but it soon becomes apparent he is quite possessive and jealous.
The after chapters describe Evie’s/Kate’s new life in Maketu and detail her memories as they start to come back to her. Jim makes all the decisions for her – he doesn’t keep her captive, she is allowed to go for walks but he keeps a very close eye on her, making sure she knows the consequences of them being found.
I read this with a real sense of unease – the troubled feelings Evie has about her situation really get into your head. Quite a slow burner, it is nonetheless a tense thriller and I wanted to race to the end to find our what happened!
Many thanks to Millie at Little Brown for sending me a copy for review, as part of the Instagram tour.
About the author:
J P Pomare grew up on a horse-racing farm in small town New Zealand with his three older siblings and his father. He left for Melbourne where he developed his craft, entrenching himself in the Australian literary community. For almost two years he produced and hosted a podcast called On Writing, interviewing almost thirty local and international authors including Joyce Carol Oates, John Safran, Dorthe Nors, E Lockheart, Chris Wormersley, and Sofie Laguna.
J P Pomare has be published in several journals including Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe, and Mascara Literary Review. He has also won, and been short and long listed for a number of prizes include the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Prize. Call Me Evie is his first novel.