Summary and book reviews of Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night

by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker X
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2018, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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About this Book

Book Summary

A searing psychological thriller.

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

ONE

Cassandra Tanner—Day One of My Return

We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe. Maybe there's no difference between wanting and needing. I don't know. What I do know is that the truth can evade us, hiding behind our blind spots, our preconceptions, our hungry hearts that long for quiet. Still, it is always there if we open our eyes and try to see it. If we really try to see.

When my sister and I disappeared three years ago, there was nothing but blindness.

They found Emma's car at the beach. They found her purse inside, on the driver's seat. They found the keys in the purse. They found her shoes in the surf. Some people believed she had gone there to find a party or meet a friend who never showed. They believed that she'd gone for a swim. They believed that she'd drowned. Maybe by accident. Maybe a suicide.

Everyone believed Emma was dead.

As for me, well—it was not as simple as that.

I was fifteen when I disappeared....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Early in the novel, Cass says, "Our mother knew how to keep us hungry for her." How does this statement set the tone for the rest of the book? How does it affect what you think about Mrs. Martin for the rest of the story? Where can you see this coming into play in the novel?
  2. One of the first things we learn about Cass is the origin of her full name, Cassandra. Cassandra was a prophet who could see the future, but no one believed her. What are the parallels between Cass's namesake and her role in the events of the novel?
  3. What, if anything, did you know about narcissism before reading Emma in the Night? Was anything you thought completely wrong? What did you learn about this disorder throughout the course of the novel?
  4. One of ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Perhaps not surprisingly, I found Cass's narration the more compelling point of view. Her first-person account reveals the secrets in layers, bit by bit. Walker's side of the story adds a valuable explanation, especially for those readers interested in reaching a better understanding of mental illness and its impact on families, but the choice to tell her sections in third-person point of view feels like a misstep. With each shift in narration, I had to remind myself that Cass was no longer talking. This took me out of the story more than I would have liked. Emma In the Night will appeal to readers looking for a voyeuristic peek into the lives of a wealthy, but extremely troubled family.   (Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
This thriller aims right for the heart and never lets go.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Walker's portrayal of the ways in which a narcissistic, self-involved mother can affect her children deepens the plot as it builds to a shocking finale.

Booklist
Starred Review. Both twisted and twisty, this smart psychological thriller sets a new standard for unreliable narrators.

Reader Reviews

Betty Taylor

Mother of the Year -- NOT!
I read Wendy Walker’s book “All is Not Forgotten” so was looking forward to reading this one. I love psychological thrillers. Sisters Emma and Cass Tanner mysteriously disappear one night. Then three years later, Cass just as mysteriously returns ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Forensic Psychology

A forensic psychologist for the FBI, Dr. Abby Walker, is one of the two narrators of Emma in the Night. Her understanding of the thought process of the missing girls' narcissistic mother allows her to fill in the gaps in Cass's story.

The American Board of Forensic Psychology identifies forensic psychology to be "the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system." Forensic psychology is commonly used to help solve and prevent crimes. In the past it may have been called a detective's "hunch."

Ted Kaczynski Forensic psychology has been used to create psychological profiles of serial murderers and kidnappers, arsonists and other criminals. Some famous cases where forensic ...

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