A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

This book certainly changed the way I look at my best friends. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” While the book was captivating, it had some clichés and a rather predictable ending. Had it not been for one of my book clubs wanting to see the movie after reading this, I wouldn’t have felt the desire to read it.

It all begins with a simple favor, like the title of the book, how predictable. Stephanie, a mommy blogger, is asked to pick up her best friend, Emily’s kid from school when an emergency at her work comes up. So what happens when mommy blogger’s best friend Emily never comes to pick up her kid? A series of sad, and rather pathetic blog posts ensue. From finding out her best friend is dead, to falling for her best friend’s husband, to then finding out her best friend is not dead, to helping in a murder, to then wind up back where she was before she met Emily, a nobody with her ‘mommy blogging’ online readers.

First pathetic and predictable move — Stephanie feels compelled to reach out to her mommy blogging followers for help. At this point I seriously though I was only going to get Stephanie’s perspective through these preachy, sad blog posts throughout the book. But, nope, we then get to see how two-faced Stephanie is. Publishing her ‘mommy blog’ lies out into the world, and then we get her own narrative a little further in the novel. And that’s where we truly see how, well it might be rather harsh, but how disgusting of a person Stephanie is.

From Stephanie revealing her dark and extremely disturbing secrets, to falling for her dead best friend’s husband, I got a bit of whiplash at how dark this book was going to turn out. I have to give it to the author, Darcey Bell, to think outside the box when it comes to this suspenseful and even dark plot. Taking out some of the creepy aspects of the book, no spoilers, it all became too predictable.

At first I felt Stephanie’s character was sweet and kind of run-of-the-mill mom character. But her development went from sweet, to disgusting, to pathetic. I really didn’t like how desperate she was to gain Sean, Emily’s husband, love and affection. Going so far to listen to the music he likes, to even eating and cooking the foods he likes. She became a psychotic almost obsessed mother grasping for the friendship of Emily, and then the love and desire for Sean, only to then go back to Emily. I couldn’t even pity her at the end, it was a poor character development on Bell’s part.

Here I will insert a slow clap for Emily. This woman is scary as hell. I mean, who thinks like she does. Emily is cunning, manipulative and even dangerous in the end. She has this secretive past, that makes her come off as a vulnerable character at first, but that just adds to her cunning, manipulative desire to see both Sean and Stephanie pay for ruining her plans. Without spoiling the end, Emily essentially losses everyone she had ever cared about except her child, which for me, made it even more terrifying that this woman was now the sole caretaker of a little kid. I felt like someone needed to call social service for the poor kid at the end. You thought Emily’s childhood was bad growing up, could you image what Nicky, Emily’s kids, would grow up to be like with Emily’s influences and cunning ways forced on him?

So, putting characters aside, predictability and even the blogging narrative of Stephanie, well, you really don’t have much do you? I’d say the book was a ‘meh.’ It could have been better but it was captivating at points. Let’s just say it left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to looking at my best friends. You never truly know what someone’s capable of when it comes to family, money and love.

2-5-stars

 

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