From Net Galley
She thought she had her life back. She was wrong. A gripping debut thriller perfect for fans of Natalie D. Richards and Vincent Ralph.
It was a mistake to trust him.
Shivering and bruised, a teen wakes up on the side of a dirt road with no memory of how she got there—or who she is. A passing officer takes her to the police station, and not long after, a frantic man arrives. He's been searching for her for hours. He has her school ID, her birth certificate, and even family photos.
He is her father. Her name is Mary. Or so he says.
When Lola slammed the car door and stormed off into the night, Drew thought they just needed some time to cool off. Except Lola disappeared, and the sheriff, his friends, and the whole town are convinced Drew murdered his girlfriend. Forget proving his innocence, he needs to find her before it's too late. The longer Lola is missing, the fewer leads there are to follow…and the more danger they are both in.
Megan Lally's debut novel, That's Not My Name has all the energy reminiscent of the early days of YA with the fresh modernity of the 2020s. Lally captured the kind of mood that seasoned authors such as Natasha Preston are known for. There's an earnestness, between the normal mystery/thriller elements, that keeps the reader engaged and attached to these characters all the way to the end of the book.
We start off from the point-of-view of a character who doesn't remember her name or identity; where she's from, how old she is, who her parents are--all gone. We follow her as Girl while she puts together the pieces that she is aware of. She's in the woods, seemingly alone, and in a whole lot of pain.
The depth of her confusion is jarring for her and the reader, in a way that takes us on the journey with Girl as her co-pilot. Together we watch her grasp for anything helpful in her clouded and empty mind. And we're just as suspicious and distrusting as she is when a burly older man charges into the police station armed with a convincing explanation about who she is.
Miles away, Drew is one of the only people still holding onto hope that his missing girlfriend, Lola, is still a missing person and not a missing body. Unfortunately for him, he's reportedly the last person to see Lola alive. He becomes the one and only suspect to the local police and the focus of their investigation. But Drew refuses to give in. He's the perfect vehicle, the force that causes the two parts of this plot to collide.
Lally successfully harnesses the palpable emotions of her teenage cast. Girl--who later becomes Mary--and her rollercoaster of amnesia-riddled self-discovery. Drew's anger, guilt, and grief. Lola's best friend Autumn and her contrition. Max and his concern for his cousin, Drew, and can-do support. These are the soul of this book. The very real and honest portrayal of hormone-driven reactions reminds the reader these are kids--teens dealing with scary situations.
We're so emotionally invested in the characters and their perceived realities that by the time the twist comes it feels like a rug was physically pulled out from under us. I had a very visceral reaction to the revelation; screaming, "WHAT?!" alone in my car at the top of my lungs.
This is a great debut novel, a credit to the author and the genre. That's Not My Name is full of suspense, page-turning prose, and a heartbreaking ending.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery, unreliable narrators, true crime, and first loves who fight for each other until the very end.