This well-crafted book had me pretty much screeching with indignation by the end. I’m not sure most people would mean that as a recommendation, but I do.
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris is the story of Cass who takes a shortcut home one story night and sees a woman stopped by the side of the road. The woman doesn’t seem to need help, so Cass drives on, forgetting about the incident until the next day when she hears the woman had been murdered. Her guilt spirals as she learns the woman was actually someone she’d recently met.
That’s only the beginning of strange occurrences that seem to be plaguing Cass. Her memory has become untrustworthy, as she forgets appointments, loses time and begins receiving extravagant purchases she doesn’t recall making. Spurring her fears and causing her to hide them from her husband is her belief that she may be suffering from the same early-onset dementia that caused the death of her mother at a young age.
The title is very much a play on words, evoking the many types of breakdowns we experience in life- not only the literal breakdown of the car by the side of the road, but also the breakdown of communication in marriages and friendships as well as the mental breakdown the protagonist fears she is suffering.
Reading along, you will become as frustrated, confused and angry as she must feel. There seems to be no solid ground and nothing trustworthy to grasp on to. I was slightly annoyed by her seeming gullibility, and the ease with which she just accepts certain things that happen- but I also think this fits the character and her particular set of fears.
I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t say much more. However, when Cass finally starts to come out of the fog that has kept her blinded to reality, you will feel so proud of her. The ending is brilliant and deliciously executed.
Be prepared, upon beginning this book, to have no other plans until you finish. It’s just that compelling.
The Breakdown is available from St. Martin’s Press