The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry

The Boy that Never wasI received this book from the publisher, Penguin SA, in exchange for an honest review.

Please note: There might be spoilers in this review

Harry and Robin lived in Tangier with their three year old son, Dillon, until Harry made the careless mistake of leaving Dillon alone in the apartment while he snuck out quickly. As fate would have it, there was a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of many, including Dillon, who is believed dead since no body was found. This happened five years ago. After what happened, Harry and Robin moved back to Dublin to rebuild their lives.

The story is told from both their perspectives. Harry, who is struggling to deal with the guilt and the loss of their son, believes that Robin blames him for what happened to Dillon. Reading both their perspectives it felt to me that Harry grieved for their son a lot more than what Robin did. Was it his guilt? But Robin had her own guilt, maybe she believed that Dillon’s fate was her punishment?

One day Harry sees a 8 year old boy that reminds him of Dillon and this sends him into a downwards spiral of obsession. Trying to find Dillon, trying to persuade his friend Spencer to help him find the boy, while hiding this from Robin. When he eventually tells her that he thinks he found Dillon, she doesn’t believe him and think him crazy. I did find her reluctance to listen to his reasons a bit perplexing as I would have thought she might want to have that hope, especially since his body was never found. On the other hand, I can also understand why she doesn’t want to have that hope, because if it’s not Dillon, it would mean heartbreak for her all over again.

There are some dynamics in their relationship too. Harry was unfaithful and although she knows it, she casted a blind eye. Why is she blind to his mistakes? If it was me, I would have left him, but you know what… we will find that reason out soon enough. During Harry’s quest to find Dillon a lot of other secrets and betrayals are revealed. Will they survive it?

The story is slow moving in the beginning, but it picks up from the middle towards the end, because as a reader, I wanted to know is it really Dillon that he saw or is he psychologically disturbed? Harry was my favourite character as I felt he opened up a lot more. This novel is part thriller and part psychological, although the latter in small doses. It is a novel filled with mystery, secrets and betrayal, but also of loss – and how it can shatter your life. I think that if you enjoy mysteries, you will like reading this one.

Image source