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January 10, 2020

The Playground by Jane Shemilt ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"I used to think that truth was a simple thing.  That there could be one truth, single and essential-like light, say, or water. Now I know it comes in layers, some more transparent than others.  If you look carefully - and we didn't - you can see through the top layer to the darkness beneath.  I'm thinking of ice on the surface of deep water." (p3)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Dec. 2019; William Morrow; 978-0062952172
audio, ebook, print (384 pages)
psychological thriller
A new friendship between three sets of parents and six children develops when one child in each family takes part in tutoring for dyslexia.  To say these families are different is putting it mildly.  We have:

  • Eve, living well on her trust fund and her husband Eric, a landscaper.  They live in a large but messy house with their three children  Eve believes that children shouldn't lead structured lives and should be free to play without parental interference.
  • Melissa is an interior decorator who lives her life very strictly, is anorexic and tries her best to stay out of Paul's way.  Paul is an abuser to his wife but very close to their daughter Izzy.
  • Grace and Martin have two children. She is from Zimbabwe and works to keep the family fed and taken care of. He is an author who has had one big book and appears to have major writer's block as he tries and fails on his second book. Grace is also a writer but doesn't have time or energy to write after her long days at work.

Over the course of the summer, the six adults all become closer and even go to Greece on vacation.  The unsupervised children also grow close but what is really going on with the kids.  Is it simple hide-and-seek or is there something much more sinister going on?  The story twists and turns while the three families search for answers. It’s only as they begin to unravel the truth of what happened over the summer that they realize evil has crept quietly into their world while they weren't paying attention.

I enjoyed this book and the twists and turns made it a fun read.  I had trouble identifying with the parents' lack of attention to their children's needs - I wanted to shake the parents a few times and tell them to open their eyes and pay attention.   I could see the ending coming at about the halfway point but wasn't totally sure if the author would throw another twist in or not.  Overall, this was a fun quick read and a great book for a long cold evening.

Buy The Playground at Amazon

Also available: HarperCollins | Barnes & Noble

About Jane Shemilt

While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England. Follow Jane on Twitter and Instagram.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. This is called Little Friends in Australia/UK :)

  2. I am right there with you, I enjoyed this one and several times I wanted to shake these parents senseless!! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  3. the cover makes me curious and i doesn't matter a lot to me that i can figure things out ahead of time. sometimes the author throws in a surprise or two on the way
    sherry @ fundinmental

  4. Who are the two men that arrive at the house in the last chapter???