Author: Caroline Kepnes
Publication Date: 1 August 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Providence is my first Caroline Kepnes and it certainly won’t be my last. I found myself completely invested but I was also able to put it down and walk away when I needed to. I found it to be more of a slow burning thriller than a gripping edge of my seat read. I’m trying to think how best to describe it because this was most definitely not your ordinary thriller, yet I’m not sure how I would categorise it. A little Lovecraftian?
Jon Bronson is one of those kids that just seems to have a target on his back. He doesn’t so much have a tiny circle as one single friend, Chloe Sayers. Chloe is friends with the popular crowd as well and splits her time because they certainly don’t mix. Jon is an only child who is relentlessly picked on, which is why he takes a shortcut through the woods at the back of his house to school; it saves him being picked on at the bus stop.
Ironically it is cutting through the woods that is ultimately Jon’s downfall. It may have saved him from bullying at the hands of Carrig Birkus but it made him an easier target for the kidnapper who whisks him away on his way to school.
Chloe Sayers is hit hard by Jon’s disappearance, having it hit home just how close they are now that he’s gone. We watch her through the early days of his disappearance as she misses him, and realises how few people really do. The Police search for him but the team of locals who assist in the search is small and they make no headway, he seems to be gone without a trace. We watch Chloe for a couple of months as she adjusts to life without her best friend and begins her path to becoming an artist.
Four years later Jon returns, completely without warning and with no memory of the time he has been away beyond being able to identify his kidnapper. He isn’t the same since he’s been away and it isn’t just the rockin new bod he woke up with. Strange things seem to happen when he’s around and he needs to work out how to stop it.
It isn’t long before Jon feels that it’s best for everyone if he isn’t around, and leaves again. I think the fallout is worse second time round because he came back, those who loved him expected that things would be ok but they weren’t. In the months that he was back he tried reconnecting but things just weren’t the same.
I really enjoyed this read, it was unique and it made me think; it also made me very curious about Lovecraft and I would love to delve into his work when I have some time. My issue at the moment is that I am stuck on how to go about a spoilerless review that doesn’t tell you more about the book than you can get from the blurb.
Kepnes has explored relationships in depth. This is a tale of that first love, sparked when they were too young to be more than the best of friends and before it could go any further Jon was kidnapped and that changed everything. This is a situation that could have gone a number of ways but the yearning and the missing saw that bond solidify and strengthen in Chloe to where she found it hard to form attachments to other males.
Chloe and Jon were in touch a lot when he was back but they didn’t see each other. Jon had his reasons but it totally messed with Chloe’s head and sends very mixed messages, leaving her with no idea how he actually feels.
The love triangle was an interesting one, and sometimes they are more interesting than predictable. Watching it play through to the very end was eye opening in the way that sometimes you are shown a new perspective that makes everything look different.
Providence is dark, it’s different, it’s a love story doomed from the start but it’s so much more than that. It’s a tale of learning to know yourself, of sacrifice and of connections.
I enjoyed Providence, I loved Eggs as a character, and I would recommend it to people who like things a little disturbing.