Nothing Without Me
February 7, 2024

Book Review

Nothing Without Me

reviewed by Erin Clemence

April has finally had one of her biggest dreams come true- she is up for a major film award for best director. Although she should be enjoying the accolades, April can’t help but think about her leading lady, Essie Lay, and the fact that she found her body in the pool just hours before the ceremony.

 No one knows Essie is dead except April and her partner, Jag, and the secret is almost too much for April to bear. But when she returns to Lotus Lodge, where Essie lives, to deal with the aftermath, Essie’s body has disappeared. Was Essie really dead or has she just pulled a disappearing act? If Essie was dead, who moved her body and why? April’s guilt sets her on a path to get justice for her former friend and employee, but at what cost?

Helen Monks Takhar is the author of “Precious You” and “Such a Good Mother” and her newest novel, “Nothing Without Me” is a disturbing glimpse at life behind the Silver Screen.

Esther Laycock, stage name Essie Lay, is a woman forced into stardom due to her father’s depleting bank account, who is managed by her jealous and heartless sister. Esther and April shared a toxic friendship back in their early days in the business, but have drifted apart as a result of a devastating event. Immediately, the reader feels for both women, who have suffered greatly at the hands of others and have had control over their own lives ripped away. Desperate to reclaim their lives, the women turn to (and on) each other. Takhar has created a realistic depiction of female friendships torn apart by trauma and immediately, she creates an emotional bond between the characters and the reader.

The novel is narrated by both women, and takes place across multiple time periods, jumping back and forth between them. The chapters begin with naming both the character narrating and the time period, so it is easy to follow the chain of events.  “Without Me” has multiple twists and turns that leave you guessing throughout and what happened to Essie is just the start. The ending was surprising but comforting, with each plot line perfectly wrapped up in a succinct and complete way.

“Without Me” shows the dark side of fame and the extra pressures that it places on females in the industry. Not only was the novel creative and entertaining, it was thought-provoking and emotional, and Takhar has provided a novel that everyone will be talking about.

Nothing Without Me is available at:

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