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Reviewed by Melanie Kline

Two weeks after Tommie McCloud’s father dies, a letter arrives in his office addressed to her. Five days later, Tommie has read the letter forty-two times and her world is turned upside down. The letter is from a woman named Rosalina Marchetti who claims that Tommie is the daughter who was kidnapped from her thirty-one years ago. If the letter is to be believed, then Tommie’s real father is Anthony Marchetti, an infamous mobster in prison for murder.

Tommie does her best to ignore the letter, but various events keep drawing her back to it. For example, a new social security card arrives in the mail with a letter stating that there had been a mistake and the number she has used for years does not, in fact, belong to her.

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin is a book to remember. As Tommie tries to get her father’s affairs in order and run the family business, the letter keeps creeping into her life until she is forced to look into the facts. What she finds only deepens her confusion about the parents that raised her. As badly as Tommie wants to believe that Rosalina Marchetti is delusional and very mistaken, there are pieces of her life that just don’t quite fit. She never noticed them before, but the more she tries to discount the letter the larger the pieces become.

I found Playing Dead to be one of the most consuming books I have read in a very long time. I was completely unable to put it down and was fully wrapped up in the story from the beginning. It twists and turns and wraps back around itself while Tommie tries to unravel the secret that is her life. When she finally finds out who she really is, it is so far from where you think you are going, yet makes perfect sense. I recommend this book to everyone and cannot wait until Julia Heaberlin’s next novel. This was an amazing debut and if the next is as good as this one, she is sure to become one of my favorite authors.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.a Rafflecopter giveaway