The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

‘The Last Thing He Told Me’: Unraveling Secrets, Trust and Love

Graphic: Valeria Reyes

As finals week approaches, my days begin to feel like a loop: class, work, phone break and repeat. I find myself feeling more stressed and taking less time for myself. To remedy this cycle, I make myself put down my work and pick up a book. I recently read “The Last Thing He Told Me” by New York Times bestselling author Laura Dave. Whether I grabbed the book between class assignments or before bed, I found myself unable to put it down. 

The mystery takes us through the sudden disappearance of Owen Michaels, Hannah Hall’s newlywed husband and father of Bailey Michaels. Owen and his family live a seemingly perfect life — a floating home in Sausalito, Calif., jobs they love and a wonderful new marriage. However, behind this perfect image lurks something more sinister: Owen is hiding who he truly is from everyone around him.

The day Owen disappears, which happens to be the same day his boss is arrested, he leaves hundreds of thousands of dollars and a note with Hannah that says “protect her,” referring to Bailey. From there, Hannah and Bailey work together to find Owen and discover his past. From meeting with FBI agents to flying to Austin, Texas, the pair meet different characters, visit new locations and find hidden artifacts, all of which reveal that Owen is not the person they thought he was. 

As the mystery unfolds, so does the relationship between Bailey and Hannah. It turns from hostile to loving — or as close to loving as you can get when your husband or father has silently slipped away. Unlike many novels that focus on romantic relationships, Dave is more interested in the stepmother-daughter relationship. While most stepparent-to-child relationships are negatively portrayed in the media, the positive portrayal of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship highlights that families don’t have to be related by blood. It also shows the importance of family and trust in a time of loss and secrecy.

Dave deliberately weaves together the present with past memories that give insight into what might have happened to Owen. The author gives new clues in each chapter, allowing the reader to follow along and piece together the signs at the same time as Hannah and Bailey. The novel is fast-paced, with the perfect amount of suspense. The twists and turns keep readers engaged and on their toes, not knowing what will happen next. The findings are unexpected, multilayered and unlike any other mystery I have read.

Overall, I think this novel is perfect if you are looking for a quick read and a page-turning story. I love that it never gets repetitive or boring. The character development of Bailey, as she goes through her teenage phases, is easy for many people our age to relate to. Hannah’s memories of Owen, combined with what his peers say about him, make him a strong, multifaceted character despite him never being introduced in the present time. My perspective of him switched back and forth from bad guy to good guy, causing me to keep reading to see who he really is.

Despite these strong characters and relationships, I think Hannah, as the narrator of the novel, is underdeveloped. I wish she had changed alongside Bailey and their relationship. Instead, her feelings and motives stay the same throughout the story. The ending is abrupt and less satisfying than the rest of the novel. Not all stories need to have a “happily ever after” ending, especially mysteries, but I wish this ending was better explained and felt less rushed.

I would give “The Last Thing He Told Me” four out of five stars. It was the perfect late-night read when I needed to get my mind off my work and take a break. I am now motivated to step outside my reading comfort zone and choose more mysteries or thrillers as opposed to my regular realistic fiction novels. If you’re looking to do the same, try Laura Dave.

Rating: 4/5

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