Book: The Playdate

"The Playdate"

Sound designer Callie Roberts is a single mother. And she’s come to rely heavily on her best friend and neighbour, Suzy. OVer the past few lonely years, Suzy has been good to Callie and her rather frail daughter, Rae, and she’s welcomed them into her large, apparently happy family.

But Callie knows that Suzy’s life is not quite as perfect as it seems. It’s time she pulled away — and she needs to get back to work. So why does she keep putting off telling Suzy? And who will care for Rae? In the anonymous city street, the houses each hide a very different family, each with their own secrets. Callie’s increased sense of alienation leads her to try and befriend a new resident, Debs. But she’s odd — you certainly wouldn’t trust her with your child — especially if you knew anything about her past…

I am very happy to be putting this book down. Finally. I can’t believe it took me a week to read the whole thing through. Although, admittedly, that’s mostly because I was just sneaking in reading a chapter or two while taking breaks from deadlines… But that’s beside the point. I should’ve breezed through this book. But it bored me.

Well, until the last few chapters. But that was because the plot was suddenly moving at a fast pace. The quality of the storytelling did not improve at all. I would even argue that the story took a turn for the worse.

Here’s the deal: Callie, our protagonist, basically wants to get her life back on track. She has a clingy best friend who does everything for her without complaint, which… well, I would find annoying too. For different reasons. But Callie’s reason for wanting to cut Suzy, the best friend, loose is less than noble.

There’s a twist to their friendship. To the reason why Callie knows everything isn’t peachy keen in Suzy’s life. And it’s a twist that ruins the whole book for me. Because throughout all Callie’s ordeals, you actually root for her to win. To succeed. Until you find out what the twist is. And then, you just think, that she kind of deserves what she’s getting.

But the less than pure protagonist isn’t the reason why I dislike this book. I actually would find it more intriguing if the author dealt with the complexities of Callie and Suzy’s relationship. But instead, we get introduced to a third character: Deb.

Deb has a past. It’s insinuated that she shouldn’t be around kids. The chapters with her point view has a sinister vibe to it that pushes you to think that she’s up to no good. So you don’t root for her. You don’t feel sorry for her. And all for the sake of a Shyamalan-ish twist. Which I really, really hated.

Now, I know we read books to be entertained. To be taken for a ride. But you don’t break your reader’s trust. You don’t purposefully make them believe something so you could pull the rug under them to make your writing look smarter than it actually is.

This book betrays its reader. And I do not like it.

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