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“One of Us” by Kylie Kaden is a domestic thriller focused on the residents of a gated community. It follows the emotional lives of two families – particularly the women in them – as long held frustrations explode and lead to violence. Kaden makes familiar themes into a fresh and absorbing story and a great reading experience.

Gertie and Ed have never entirely fitted into the wealthy enclave of Apple Tree Creek. They won their house in a raffle, and simply don’t have the disposable income of many other residents. Gertie’s a stay at home mum, often ruffled and perhaps sinking into middle age and parenthood a little too comfortably.

Despite their occasional unease with the environment they’ve found themselves in, Gertie and Ed enjoy a happy and solid marriage. Until, with no warning, Ed announces that they need a break and leaves Gertie with their three children while he accepts an overseas posting.

Meanwhile, only a few streets away, Rachael is glossy and successful, and hugely pregnant. She finds her husband has cheated on her yet again. She should leave, really she should. And yet there are so many reasons to stay.

A chance encounter leads the two to develop a strong friendship. It’s a support to both of them as their lives start to crumble. And they’ll really need that support when one of their husbands is violently attacked. In the closely monitored community, it’s clear that no strangers visited the estate that night. The attacker must be someone from this small and supposedly safe community.

There isn’t a strong sense of place in the novel. We’re told that Apple Tree Creek estate is in Sydney, but if not for that, I might well have placed it somewhere in the US. Perhaps it’s because I associate the idea of gated communities so much more strongly with the US. Perhaps it’s a by product of the stifling, insular atmosphere that Kaden develops for the community. Either way, it contributes to the sense of a community separate from the rest of the world.

Kaden deals with some very sensitive and emotive issues in this novel, and handles them with delicacy and tact. There are not only the issues Gertie and Rachael have to deal with in their marriages; there are teenagers, porn, screen use problems, abuse of technology, special needs kids and the general pressures of parenting. Kaden bundles these together in a way that many readers will recognise: there’s never just ONE problem to handle at a time, is there?

The climatic, violent attack is foreshadowed in the prologue, but you almost forget about it for a while. Kaden draws you so strongly into the emotional and family lives of her characters that you become absorbed by them, and don’t focus on what’s coming.

I found the gradual reveal of the extent of the problems in Rachael’s marriage both credible and handled with considerable sensitivity. Gertie’s journey to re-frame her life without her husband was realistic and very engaging. These two are the heart of the novel, and most readers will empathise strongly with both of them. Many will recognise at least some of the problems they’re handling.

This is a strong thriller, but also a strong exploration of relationships. The particular focus on long term relationships and how to know whether – and when – to walk away is an interesting angle that many readers will appreciate. The believable characterisations are also a huge strength.

 “One of Us” is likely to appeal to quite a broad range of readers, and few will be disappointed. It’s an absorbing and memorable novel.

ISBN: 978-0-6486770-9-3

Copy courtesy of Pantera Press (2022)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading One of Us by Kylie KadenYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: One Of Us

  1. Thanks to Pantera Press and Beauty and Lace book club for the opportunity to read and review One of Us by Kylie Kaden.
    This story is set in an exclusive gated community where there is CCTV and drone security monitoring coming and goings and movements on the street. So when a resident is attacked and no outsiders have entered the gated community the residents know it was one of their own that is guilty.
    It is a story about friendships, secrets and maintaining an image. But sometimes it’s more important to tell the truth and shatter the image of perfection.
    I was captured by the story and wanted to race through to finish it.

  2. This is not a genre I normally read, but thought I’d try something different. I absoutely loved it.
    The 2 main female characters, live in Apple Tree Creek private estate. They are from totally different backgrounds, yet find a common ground as both have deteriorating marriages, and become great friends. The trials and tribulations within their marriages are forefront in the story, but written so credibly. The issues with teenagers and what a parenting nightmare it can be, are also well written.I think most readers with teenagers, can relate well to what the characters as parents, have to deal with.
    The vicious attack is soon found to be an ‘inside job’, but the question on everyones lips, ‘is who would do it?” A great page turner, and I’m so glad I chose something different for my taste, as I thoroughly enjoyed, and recommend One Of Us, by Kylie Kaden.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity. I will most drfinitely expand my horizons and view other genres fom now on.

  3. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Pantera Press for introducing me to another great Australian Author that I had not come across before.
    This was a clever domestic thriller full of intrigue and suspense with relatable characters dealing with all the pressures of every day life in a gated community where nearly everything is monitored.
    It started with an attacked bloody body but then went to introduce the families in a clever way. Lots of serious issues dealt with in a gentle manner.
    Highly recommended.

  4. You know it is a good book when you decide to keep reading until the wee hours of the morning to finish.

    I highly enjoyed reading my first Kylie Kaden novel called “One of Us” but I do have “The Day the Lies Began” waiting for me on Audiobook.  This domestic thriller focuses on two families from the affluent gated community of Apple Tree Creek – their secrets, day-to-day struggles, and relationships.  It was like peeking through a window into both main characters’ lives.

    Gertie feels like an imposter living in the gated community – they won this lifestyle via a ticket in a box of chocolates and still drive a second-hand Tarago. Three kids and an adoring Husband she is on the merry-go-round that is life when her Husband blindsides her with his decision to move to Singapore for work without her and the children!

    Rachael is the picture of success, beautiful with a dashing ex-Olympian swimmer Husband, a businesswoman in her own right with 2 boys and a baby on the way.  Rachael discovers Sam her Husband has cheated on her again.

    Two women with nothing in common other than living in the gated community bond over the shared disaster that is their marriages.

    The prologue draws us straight in – one of their Husbands has been attacked. CCTV footage shows no outsiders visited the gated community so it had to be someone from the community. Who could it be and why, from here we get to know the residents of Apple Tree Creek.

    I found the novel easy to read and liked the characters – chapters moved between each of the characters easily and were always noted with the characters’ names.  I felt that the author touched on many issues that can impact families – special needs children, midlife crisis, marriage issues, coercive control, screen time and restricted content, privacy, affairs, loss, and grief which made it a realistic read.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pantera Press for the opportunity to discover this new Author and thank you Kylie for a fast paced novel that kept me up till I finished it. 

  5. One of Us is a gripping domestic noir filled with simmering secrets. I was intrigued with this story right from the prologue; a husband attacked and a wife in tears. The question of who was attacked is in the back of your mind as you read. Then there is the mystery of the attacker with many of the characters having a motive. Around these mysteries Kaden has written a story about wives and mothers trying to do their best whilst fighting their own feelings of failure and struggling under the burden. There are multiple themes throughout the novel that I am sure will resonate with readers.

  6. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Pantera Press for the opportunity to read and review One Of Us. I absolutely loved it and could not put it down.
    Kylie Kaden has written an amazing book that really takes you on a journey with lots of twists and turns so you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
    I found the characters very likeable and easy to fall in love with.
    I loved that the book was also a thriller as well as a book of life in Suburbia and it’s ups and downs.
    I highly recommend this book.

  7. One of us was a bit slow to get started and it took me a while to get into it, but after a while I found myself reading ‘just one more chapter’ over and over. I enjoyed the story and the range of characters, with two very likable main characters. The story has many twists and each time you think you know what has happened, it proves you wrong. There are some themes that readers may find confronting but they are brought into the story very realistically. Overall a good read!

  8. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review One of Us. This is a genre I don’t generally reach for when choosing a book to read but I was pleasantly surprised

    I found One of Us very easy to read and also extremely addictive. There are some themes that may be confronting for some readers but all in all it was a magnificent read and I’m thankful I got to read it.

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