When We Were Young by Dawn Goodwin

It’s my stop today on the blog tour for When We Were Young by Dawn Goodwin. Many thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invite.

Title: When We Were Young

Author: Dawn Goodwin

Published on: 14 September 2022

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Psychological Thriller

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fate decides for us.

Uni friends Stacey, Paula and Bev meet after thirty years at their friend Valentina’s funeral. The four women did not keep in touch after graduation. Stacey, Paula and Bev are now in their early fifties. Life hasn’t been that good to them. None of them are living the ‘life of their dreams.’

Stacey spends most of her time drinking and is hardly able to keep a steady job. Paula is in an abusive marriage with Sue. Bev is married to Malcolm and has two teenage children but nobody cares about her. Her love life has fizzled out and her children don’t talk to her unless they need something.

Valentina was their flatmate at Uni. She joined them in their final year. After three decades of not talking to each other, they are surprised to be invited for Val’s funeral. After the funeral, the trio are to go to a local pub (The White Horse) that bears the same name as the one they used to visit when they were in Uni. Stacey tells the other two that she received a letter from Val, asking them to visit this pub.

After a drunken evening, the trio return to their respective homes and their past begins to haunt them.

When We Were Young by Dawn Goodwin is an engrossing, gripping and a guaranteed page turner. This psychological thriller is sure to take the reader on a chilling and nail-biting adventure.

The story begins with the trio meeting at Valentina’s funeral. The story alternates between PAST and PRESENT. The PAST is about how Valentina joined the group, her antics that made them angry, her need to please Stacey, and finally, that fateful weekend before graduation which separated the group. The PRESENT is about Stacey’s addiction to alcohol and her life falling apart, Paula’s abusive spouse, Bev’s non-existent married life. Also, we have another PoV – someone is watching the trio – a hooded figure that takes pleasure in the trio’s hardships.

As the story proceeds, we get to know Valentina – how she manipulated, tried to gain their attention and approval, and much more. I admit I found Valentina a bit creepy as I learned more and more about her. Of course, one might take an example from real life where a people pleaser would go to any extent to gain approval and appreciation but what Val did was a tad creepy/stalkerish.

Stacey’s sudden change post graduation is a sad story. The incident that happened on the last weekend of the graduation changed her. You know, they say a circumstance changes a person – either for good or bad. In Stacey’s case, it made her bitter. Stacey was the life of the party in Uni. Now, she leads a lonely and bitter life.

Paula’s relationship with Sue highlights toxic relationship – from gaslighting to manipulation to physical abuse. It was as if Paula was looking for a way out but Sue made sure she was trapped and helpless. Bev’s life is no happily-ever-after. Her husband does not care for her and nor do her children.

The mystery behind Val’s death and the incident that broke the group in Uni kept me guessing till the end. Scenes of the hooded figure following the trio brought shivers down my spine – it was quite clear that they wanted to grievously harm the trio.

The identity of the hooded clear became quite clear, especially towards the end. The story ends on a interesting note – justice delivered, I suppose.

I had a great time reading this book. Psychological aspects are well-described and the characters are well-portrayed. The mystery kept me on my toes.

If you are looking for a riveting read, I highly recommend you to give When We Were Young by Dawn Goodwin a try.

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