#ATBR2020 – Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

End of the week is almost here!

Thanks to Harper Books for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

DON’T TURN AROUND – Jessica Barry (Released June 16th, 2020)

You can see our thoughts on her debut novel, FREEFALL, here

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Book Description:

The riveting follow up to Jessica Barry’s debut Freefall—a controversial, of-the-moment thriller about two women fighting for their right to live.

322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer. Too many secrets.

Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight. Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it’s punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they’ve worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them. Someone wants one of them dead. But which one? And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. . .

Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

The thing about a second book from a new to you author after the first one was such a hit, is the comparisons that come afterwards.  And yes, Don’t Turn Around is much different than Freefall, Barry’s debut.  And while I absolutely loved Freefall, I love that this was different and, for me, just as fast paced and compelling.

The way this book starts out gives absolutely NO indication as to how it’s going to end.  I was not expecting this to go in this direction AT ALL.  The author touches on some VERY sensitive subjects – cyber bullying, incels, women’s right to their own bodies… phew – there were some TOUGH moments for me within this read.  Personally I thought Barry did a fantastic job weaving this all in through flashbacks amid the very tenuous road trip between two strangers who inevitably learn a LOT from each other.

It really makes you think on what decisions you would make if you were put in these hard situations.  What is actually the best course of action?  These ladies both learn some very hard lessons.  Now there’s some parts I kind of side eyed in terms of how the action played out but I don’t even care because I loved the journey these women went on.  This isn’t a fun read in terms of any levity.  I think the direction the book takes may turn off some readers.  So I would put this into a contemporary thriller genre – a book with some creepy moments, but that really touches on life’s hard moments.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Last year I was instantly hooked on Jessica Barry’s debut novel, Freefall. So go say I was anxious for her follow up would be an understatement. What I loved about that one was how it all was in the moment. Not a huge jump in time and that gave it the adrenaline rush pacing. DON’T TURN AROUND had that same approach. Like the synopsis says, “322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer.”

This is going to have to be a short and sweet review because I don’t want to accidentally spoil any of the action! Barry definitely didn’t get a sophomore slump with this one and I think this solidified her as a new auto-buy author for me.

Another “in-the-moment” thriller that grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let go. I won’t lie, I was mad I had to put it down, but 2am seems to be a reasonable time for a bookworm to finally surrender to sleep. Definitely keep this one on that summer TBR!

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