Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
I really enjoyed this book. It could have been filled with gore, but instead, even though you know from the start that Tessa woke up almost dead next to a dead girl in pile of dead girls’ bones, and has (obviously) been haunted by that and everything that followed it for the next seventeen years, this is a psychological thriller throughout and blessedly free of grisly details.
It goes back and forth between Tessie in 1995 and Tessa seventeen years later. As a teenager with amnesia and a bought “hysterical blindness,” she was dealing with a sketchy psychologist and a trial where a man is sent to death row. She is a key witness despite the fact that the hours between when she went for a run and then ended up discovered in a pile of bones are completed gone from her memory. She’s the star witness because she is the only survivor of what are called the Black-Eyed Susans since the bodies were found in a field of them (a kind of flower).
Today, she is the single mother of a teenage daughter, still troubled by her past but thriving anyway until a lawyer comes to Tessa to ask if she’ll undergo hypnosis to see if she can remember those lost hours. Is it possible that Tessie put the wrong man on death row? Tessa is willing to talk to a lawyer and a forensic scientist and review her past to see what she can remember.
This is a gripping read. I didn’t love the ending quite as much as hoped for reasons I can’t go into without giving everything away. While the modern-day Tessa questions her sanity at times, she seems actually more together than a lot of people I know—she’s a very caring, concerned mother, for one thing. I highly recommend this.