I didn’t know a single thing about this book when I picked it up. I assumed (based on the title, the cover, and #bookstagram) that it was an intense story that took place in a zoo (so far so good). But I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought it was a mother and her child (wasn’t sure if it was a boy or girl) trying to hide from animals that had somehow gotten out of their cages and were wreaking havoc on the visitors (umm…nope. Way, way off!). Read the synopsis here if you don’t want to be seriously confused like I was…
I found my heart pounding and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough during the first third of the book. Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are just leaving the zoo when an active shooter situation arises. She immediately grabs Lincoln and takes off running in the opposite direction where she finds refuge for them in an exhibit that is currently empty. I couldn’t imagine the terror Joan must have felt as she had to try and keep her son calm and quiet. I instantly thought about my own children, years ago when they were that same age, and my mama heartstrings were tugged. Joan had to find the perfect balance between telling the child just enough that he understood the severity of the situation while also not telling him too much and causing him to freak out and start crying and/or screaming.
Sadly, as the story continued, it quickly began losing steam for me. I became irritated at several of the decisions Joan made and caught myself literally rolling my eyes at her. As soon as I lost that connection with Joan, the rest of the story just really didn’t matter to me anymore.
I know that I am an outlier on this one; many of my friends have loved this book! I appreciated it for the quick read that it was as that was exactly what I needed. I thought the author, Gin Phillips, did a great job of portraying the terrifying concerns a mother would have in that given situation (more so in the beginning of the book). Personally, I just thought the intensity waned quite a bit and I lost interest as it went on.
**Note: This contains serious trigger warnings. If you have anxiety of any sort when it comes to active shooter situations or with gun violence, please be aware before picking this book up!