reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
The Lake is the heartbreaking story of a mother whose son dies in a drowning accident, but is convinced that his death is no accident. Kate Hardy, former accident and emergency nurse, will not stop until she finds the truth.
Six years ago, 15-year-old Michael drowned at a lake while away at boarding school. It appears to be an accident, as he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he drowned. However, Kate knows her competitive swimmer son didn’t drown, and there must be someone else involved, as he didn’t drink or do drugs. Nor would he go for a swim so late at night by himself. When tragedy strikes again and Kate’s estranged mother has a stroke, she returns to her mother’s home where she finds Michael’s old diary and cell phone. Intrigued, she reads the diary cover-to-cover and finds out secrets about her son she never would have guessed. Though her sister and husband agree she must move on, she is determined to find out the truth.
One of the interesting things about The Lake is how it defines relationships. Kate has had mostly abusive relationships in her life, stemming from her upbringing in the Brethren, a religious cult. They excommunicated her entire family when Kate was pregnant at 15 with Michael. The relationship that Kate has with her husband is a perfect example of abuse, as he is controlling and manipulative, requiring Kate to call him at a certain time every day and tries desperately to stop her from looking further into Michael’s death. As the marriage unravels and he becomes more and more upset that she is not listening to him regarding her son, we find ourselves questioning if he was involved in Michael’s death.
Kate’s relationship with her mother is also interesting: a religious zealot who has blamed Kate for 20 years for their release from the Brethren. Even during a hospital visit, her mother’s anger and hate is palpable.
The Lake really takes off in the second half of the book. Kate starts to believe in herself and the search for what really happened with Michael becomes more and more intense. As the reader becomes more connected to Kate, we root for her. She often makes choices that are out of character for her, and it can become confusing. There is also an entire set of characters added in the last quarter of the book, but it all comes together. The ending of The Lake is the pinnacle of satisfaction; a phenomenal debut for Louise Sharland.