Published: July 15th, 2021
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
This is not just another novel about a dead girl.
When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.
Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice Lee’s body by the Hudson River.
From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life – and death. And Ruby – struggling to forget what she saw that morning – finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.
Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.
“If I tell you my story. If I let you know what happened to me. Maybe you’ll see who I was. Who I am. Maybe you’ll like the truth of me better, and maybe you’ll wish this for every dead girl from now on. The chance to speak for herself, to be known for more than her ending.”
We are all familiar with the brutal crimes often committed against women and the sadly common stories that accompany them. In this startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz takes those stories and gives them a twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What is her story? And what can we learn from her?
Narrated by Alice Lee, the eighteen-year-old girl who moves to New York for a new start and ends up dead just a few weeks later, the story is told directly to the reader as she hovers between this life and the next. She needs us to see her. Remember her. To focus on who she was and how she lived, rather than how she died. This style of narration reminded me of The Lovely Bones, which is one of my favourite books of all time. But while it echoed Susie Salmon, Alice was unique, standing out as an original, bold and memorable voice. Having Alice tell her story directly to the reader also helped me to connect with her and see her as a real person rather than just a dead body. It gives you a sense of her character, feelings, thoughts, dreams and fears. It compounds the tragedy of what happened to her as you grieve for the loss of a life that was just beginning.
“Though we come from very different places, Ruby Jones and I might as well be the same person when it comes to how we landed here in New York City.”
But it isn’t just the story of the victim that the author illuminates in this book. She also shines a light on another familiar person whose voice is rarely heard in these cases: the person who finds the body. We don’t usually know who they are or how the grim discovery reverberates through their life. Bulbitz examines these questions and more, telling the story of Ruby Jones, a thirty-six-year-old Australian who moved to New York for a fresh start. After finding Alice’s brutalised and broken body in the park on that stormy day she is shaken, traumatised and determined to find out the name and the story of Jane Doe.
“You may be gone but your legacy isn’t finished.”
Breathtaking beautiful, hypnotic and mesmerising, Before You Knew My Name is one of those books that goes right to your soul. I was captivated from the first page. It is a story about new beginnings and self-discovery; full of intrigue, promise and hope. But it is also a tragic story of a life extinguished before it has even really begun. This may be a story told by a dead girl, but the author’s masterful storytelling and melodic prose breathe life into every word. I lived every moment alongside Alice and Ruby, feeling a strong bond to these two compelling, fractured yet strong women. They were great characters that I enjoyed reading and I particularly loved how the author entwined their stories. I also loved how the evocative imagery made New York leap from the page like I was watching the story in technicolour on a movie screen. Alice’s feelings about the city were infectious and I found myself falling in love with it too. the city just as Alice did.
“There is no name to be spoken, but I am recognised by each of the women present, clasped around their lifted hands, heavy on their hearts. I am their fears, and their lucky escapes, their anger, and their wariness. I am their caution and their yesterdays, the shadow version of themselves all those nights they have spent looking over their shoulders, or twisting keys between fingers.”
Timely, brave and thought-provoking, this book feels all the more pertinent with the Sarah Everard case fresh in our minds. The author explores the things that as women we have to be aware of each day, the threat we face from the men who lurk in the shadows waiting to strike. She talks about how we feel we have to smile and act a certain way, say the right things, dampen the threat, and how the onus is put on us instead of society asking those men to change. I feel like the tides are turning now though, and that this book will help ignite much-needed discussion.
“I’m ready to tell you a little more now. Stay with me as we take that closer look. But don’t you believe a single thing he said about me.”
Atmospheric, powerful, enthralling and unflinching, the answers unfold slowly in this novel. Alice is unable to speak her secrets at first, the horror of what she suffered affecting her even after she’s left this earth. The reader learns the truth almost in sync with Ruby, keeping me guessing right up until the big reveal.
Before You Knew My Name is a phenomenal debut that stands out amongst the many mystery and thriller books I’ve read over the years. Jacqueline Bublitz is an extraordinary talent and an author to watch. I for one will be reading anything she writes.
READ IT NOW!
TW: Sexual assault, PTSD
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Jacqueline ‘Rock’ Bublitz is a writer, feminist, and arachnophobe, who lives between Melbourne, Australia and her hometown on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
She wrote her debut novel Before You Knew My Name after spending a summer in New York, where she hung around morgues and the dark corners of city parks (and the human psyche) far too often.
She is now working on her second novel, where she continues to explore the grand themes of love, loss and connection.
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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx