The Elizas by Sara Shepard ~ Sarah A’s Review

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional—isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins…

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I often get caught in such a loop of romance novels I forget how much enjoy a true psychological thriller.  The Elizas was quite the mindfuck, and I’m still not sure what was real, what was fiction (within fiction), and what was completely imagined.  I’m certain this is one book I will be thinking about for some time.

The Elizas is a standalone novel.  This is a psychological thriller with minimal romance, for those of you who are used to me reviewing romances.  The Elizas is written in two different styles, Eliza’a narration is in first-person perspective, and her novel, The Dots, is written in third-person limited perspective.

I loved how this novel was delivered, the book within a book format, and reading the book Eliza is about to have published as we are getting her story.  The play back and forth between Eliza and Dot was fascinating.  Sarah Shepard did a sublime job of building up two different plots in order to tell the incredibly riveting story of a fickle girl.

The story within a story aspect of this book was ingenious.  I found myself completely caught up in both stories so much; it eventually became difficult – for Eliza and me – to delineate where she stopped, and Dot started.  Between the fluidity between Dot and Eliza, Dot’s aunt Dorothy and Stella, and the shadowy figure Eliza continually glimpses, the security of self and the identity of those we think we know was constantly changing and in question.  It was enthralling.

By the time I finished the novel, there wasn’t a single person I hadn’t questioned the intentions of.  The characters, no matter the time they spent on the page, were highly developed and unique.  It seemed as if each and every one of them was hiding things.  From Eliza, from each other, from the reader.  Such is the intention of an unreliable narrator, and Ms. Shepard gave us a great one in Eliza.

Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series fascinated me, and I was ecstatic to get the chance to check out her foray into adult fiction.  She delivered a multi-faceted and engaging story, full of fascinating characters with dubious intentions.  I was wholly invested in figuring out the intricacies of Eliza’s world and was left reeling by the time the novel finished.  Ms. Shepard is truly a fantastic author with an incredible knack for weaving a quirky, intense, psychological thriller.

Sara Shepard is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series. She has also written other Young Adult series and novels, including The Lying GameThe Heiresses, and The Perfectionists. Sara now lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

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