Imagine you’re the stepmother of a 16-year-old who not-so-secretly doesn’t like you. Now imagine you get a note from your husband (said 16-year-old’s dad) saying “Protect her” and your husband vanishes into thin air...
So begins The Last Thing He Told Me, a gripping new thriller by Laura Dave (Hello Sunshine).
The page-turner begins with Hannah, who is madly in love with Owen, her husband of one year, and determined to build a relationship with his teenager, Bailey. Despite the tension, the blended family is a fairly happy, low-drama one. That is, until Hannah receives the aforementioned note and can’t reach her spouse. Then, Bailey finds a bag full of cash in her locker—the same day the FBI raids her dad’s software startup on suspicion of fraud.
Hannah comes to learn that the FBI has been investigating the firm for some time, and though she refuses to believe Owen is involved, she doesn’t know who to trust, and she and Bailey decide to do their own digging to find him—and clear his name. But as it turns out, Owen has his share of skeletons, forcing Hannah and Bailey to come to terms with the fact that the man they love might not be who he says he is.
The twists and turns, suspenseful as they are, take a back seat to the budding relationship between stepmother and stepdaughter. Hannah and Bailey’s path to defining their roles in relation to one another comes at an unfortunate time, but it’s a solid reminder that mother-daughter bonds (or stepmother-stepdaughter, as it were) don’t always fit into the cookie-cutter Gilmore Girls fantasy.
As for Owen, though his mysterious vanishing is at the center of the novel, he fades into the background, allowing two strong women to direct the course of the narrative.
Let’s just say it makes total sense that Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon are already adapting this one into a limited series on Apple TV+.