A Simple Favor is anything but.
It starts with Stephanie, a mommy blogger of the sanctimommy order. You know the type. The “I only prepare macrobiotic, nutritious meals for my little miracle,” or “I believe in raising my child this way and everyone else is wrong,” or “motherhood defines me” type.
Widowed when her child was still a toddler, she uses the life insurance settlement to stay at home with her young son, Miles, and begins each outpost to her blogging community with a self-satisfied, “Hi, Moms.”
With no friends in real life (beyond her blogging community), Stephanie is ecstatic to have made a rare friend in Emily, the chic working mom of her son’s classmate. One day, Emily asks Stephanie to watch her son overnight while she’s away at a business trip. It’s a simple favor that goes so complicatingly wrong once Emily is declared missing.
To get into specifics beyond Emily’s disappearance would be to spoil the surprises, but the turns these characters take are sharp and jagged. Personalities are revealed as false. Intelligence is tested (a test every one of them fails in some respect). Loyalties shift.
And the mommy blog gets more traffic and glorification than ever.
It’s not the most groundbreaking of mysteries. And there are a few plot holes that would never fly in real life. But it’s so deliciously twisty.
Stephanie in particular is so odd that she seems almost like a caricature. She’s naive, self-aggrandizing, and inept in so many ways. She makes comically bad decisions but seems almost self-righteous in making them.
Emily’s husband is somewhat of a thinly drawn character, as well. All we seem to see is his caddish behavior. I never really get a good feel for the man Emily fell so desperately in love with. The man she would trust so implicitly, who suddenly becomes a dimwit. Really, he’s not important to the story. This is Stephanie and Emily’s story. But so much of the action revolves around him; it would have been nice to understand why.
Faults notwithstanding, A Simple Favor is still an awfully fun book. Suspend disbelief. Step outside the rules of common sense. Munch on some popcorn and keep a soda handy so you can do a spit-take when you learn Stephanie’s dark secret.
It’s the kind of suspense that’s smarmy entertaining.
A Simple Favor is being made into a movie to be released September 2018. My plea is that the movie makers leave intact all of the salacious details and not try to gloss over the ones that make you say, “eww.” I wanna see it all. Every dramatic detail.
A Simple Favor
Published March 2017
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Music credit: bensound.com