A quiet, chilling, slowly unfolding mystery, Darling is a disturbing story of a teenage girl and her stepmother.
Darling by Rachel Edwards
Darling had her fair share of abuse as a black woman living in England. The story often goes sideways, exploring her early life and how she was affected by racism from an early age. As a result, the narrative doesn’t flow as a domestic thriller usually does with twists and tension, but provides a saddening insight into the sort of life many people still has to endure even today. There’s an underlying mystery surrounding Darling White, but not in a creepy, sinister way.
Lola is a bright, but quite intense 16-year-old girl, who doesn’t want a stepmother. Especially not one who is the “wrong colour“**. She complains about her endlessly to her diary and her quasi boyfriend, Will, who wholeheartedly agrees with her sentiment and agrees to help her find some dirt on her.
**This is what Lola says in her diary. Just wanted to make it crystal clear that it’s not my opinion and I don’t think there are right or wrong colours when it comes to people.
Darling, a nurse by profession, is all kindness in return. All she wants is a family and make her new husband happy. Lollapalooza (as her dad calls her) just needs her affection, over the top love and the endless supply of Jamaican food. Her son Stevie gets along just fine with Lola, so she has high hopes that this whole situation will work out just fine.
As the author alternates the chapters between Lola and Darling, some secrets are revealed. Darling’s past was difficult, but just because she wants to hide some things, doesn’t mean she has done anything wrong. Or does it? Lola on the other hand has a history of slut shaming, reckless behaviour and general nastyness. Not very promising!
Thomas, the husband is somewhat oblivious and only seems to exist to facilitate the meeting between the two ladies in his life. I have to agree with Lola on the fact that their marriage was way too rushed after three months. If he had a solid reason for this, we never found out. His attitude towards the whole racial issue is strange. When Lola’s affiliation with a certain “white power” group comes to light, he dismisses it as a silly teenage thing, not even worthy of discussion. What?
A mildly thrilling read with a shocking end I did not expect, Darling will appeal to those who love getting into people’s heads and explore how they are affected by abuse, loss, and mental illness in the family.
I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.