April 1, 2013

EVIDENCE OF LIFE by Barbara Taylor Sissel and Interview with the Author

Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Paperback, 320 pages
Kindle, 397 KB
Published March 26, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
ISBN-10: 0778315169
ISBN-13: 978-0778315162
Audio Addition, 9 hours 30 minutes

On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever.… As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.

My Thoughts on Evidence of Life

Evidence of Life is the kind of book that you simply can’t put down, that will consume your life until you get to the last page.  As a lifelong reader and a reviewer, I am always excited when a book can surprise me and this one did.   Each time I thought I had guessed what was coming and where the path would take me, I was pleasantly wrong.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Sissel and she did a fantastic job of weaving together an intriguing mystery with relatable and realistic characters.   She takes ordinary, everyday people and submerges them into extraordinary circumstances.   Our heroine Abby’s grief is palpable and she reacts like you or I would - - giving in to depressive fits and relying on family and friends to help her make it through each day.  Her sadness, her frustration and her despair are hard to read but Abby’s overall likability make it worthwhile. 

There is the aforementioned mystery angle to the book - - what happened?  how did it happen? - - but there is also an underlying question of how well you know someone, even someone you live with and sleep next to.  I found this aspect of the book frightening and a highly debatable issue. This is one of the areas of the book that Ms. Sissel could have chosen many paths to take and her choice was both surprising and fitting. 
Evidence of Life also has a theme of love running through it - - the unconditional love a parent feels for a child, the romantic love of a spouse and the love of friends and a potential relationship. And all of them feel authentic, none of them are forced.  Quite a feat for Ms. Sissel so well done there.

I have seen elsewhere Ms. Sissel being compared to Jodi Picoult and I think that does Ms. Sissel a huge injustice.  She easily stands on her own .  I prefer Ms. Sissel’s lighter writing style to Ms. Picoult’s heavier, almost maudlin, versions. 
If you enjoy women’s fiction interlaced with suspense and mystery, I think you will find Evidence of Life as intense as I did and just as hard to put down.  It's a book that will stay with you and force yourself to question your own reality.  

Evidence of Life is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate.  If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.  

For more information on author Barbara Taylor Sissel, please visit her website.  

With thanks to Liz Lauer at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for including me on this blog tour! 


     What book is on your nightstand right now?
Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
What’s the last book that kept you up all night to finish reading?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Another wasThe Help by Kathryn Stockett.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
On one level, I think I believed it when I finished my first manuscript and the wonderful editor of a small press offered to publish it, but on another level, I think it came home to me when I published my indie books and readers began to leave reviews. Then it struck me again, pretty hard, when I was actually paid an advance. That was exciting.
Where’s your favorite place to read?
I have three. One is tucked up on my garden bench outside. Another is the corner of the sofa, and the third is tucked into bed for the night. I can’t go to sleep unless I read first.
What books have influenced your life the most?
This is a hard question. I’m influenced by almost every book I read in one way or another.The Secret Garden is one I have reread over and over. I loved Anna Karenina, too, and War and Peace. The Source by James Michener was absorbing. I still think about it. I loved everything by the Bronte sisters. In recent fiction, I’ve admired Garth Stein’sThe Art of Racing in the Rain, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Before and After by Rosellen Brown and Midnight Champagne by A. Manette Ansay, One True Thing by Anna Quindlan.The Pilot’s Wife and The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. Oh, wow! The list … I could go on and on….


Barbara Sissel said...

Thank you so much, Lori, for featuring me and EVIDENCE OF LIFE on your blog today. And thank you, too, for your lovely, lovely review. I especially liked the wording: "She takes ordinary, everyday people and submerges them into extraordinary circumstances." I may have to steal that line. It so perfectly states my intention. And I really liked how you refer to it as "debatable" when it comes to how well we might think we know someone. I liked writing about that aspect of the book. It was a central question for me.

I'm in such appreciation for this opportunity you have given to put EVIDENCE OF LIFE together with readers who might enjoy it. Thanks ever so much again.

Lori Johnston said...

Thank you, Barbara, for stopping by and posting. I enjoyed your book so much. I am always thrilled by those books that really cause you to think and dig deeper and "Evidence of Life" sure did that. It would be a fantastic book club selection - - I should have included that in my review!

I most definitely look forward to your future works. And please, steal away as many lines as you'd like!

Happy Monday!