Title: Fragile: A Novel
Author: Lisa Unger
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Maggie lived in The Hollows as a teen, all she could think about was getting away from stifling small town life. But now, as an adult, she’s settled down with her husband Jones in The Hollows and is raising her own child, a teenage boy named Rick. When Rick’s girlfriend Charlene goes missing, everyone is convinced she’s a runaway, but Jones and Maggie aren’t so sure. After all, years ago, another girl named Sarah disappeared, and everyone treated her as a runaway until they found her body. Investigating Charlene’s disappearance and trying to figure out exactly what happened shakes up the town of The Hollows, and in the process, long-buried secrets begin to come to light.
I’ve really enjoyed Lisa Unger’s previous novels (such as Die For You), so I was eager to pick up her newest book, Fragile. I was also very intrigued. Unger’s books are traditionally solid mystery novels, yet Fragile seemed more like a work of contemporary fiction, with mystery and suspense weaved through it. I was eager to see how Unger tackled this change in genre, and whether this book would prove to be as gripping as her previous novels.
Fragile was indeed incredibly different, yet I really enjoyed it. Unger shows off different talents in this book. Her ability to weave a complex and gripping storyline is as wonderful as ever, but everything is incredibly realistic. Often with Unger’s novels, the reader has to suspend their sense of disbelief in order to truly immerse in the story, yet Fragile does not have that quality. Instead, the novel rings disturbingly true; the reader can picture these events unfolding in any small town across the United States.
The characters in Fragile are incredibly well-developed. Since the story line is slower paced than a traditional mystery, Unger could take the time to really let the reader get to know the people in this novel. My personal favorite character was Maggie. I appreciated how she tried so hard and invested herself in everything she did, whether it was being a mother, a wife, or a psychiatrist. She genuinely wanted to help people and it bothered her when she couldn’t.
Fragile was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that was a great departure from Unger’s previous works. Though I do hope she does continue with her mysteries, I loved this blend of contemporary fiction and suspense. The storyline was intriguing, with explosive revelations as the novel progressed, yet the center of the novel wasn’t the mystery but the characters in the book. Unger did a solid job with this one, and I’ll definitely be picking up her next book no matter what genre she chooses to write.