Deep in the throes of empty nest syndrome, Kelly Medina is missing her son who has left for college and mourns the life she used to have.
Kelly discovers that there is another Kelly Medina in town, a young single mother with a baby boy. Intrigued she starts to look for the other Kelly in real life and online, her obsession growing to know more about the woman. Finally, the two Kellies meet and start an instant friendship that is forced by the older Kelly as she feels that the younger woman isn’t being the best mother she can be to baby Sullivan. The friendship gets closer and closer until one of them disappears.
The original Kelly is an unreliable narrator which I always love in a suspense novel, it really helps to obfuscate what is really happening which for me amps amp the fun. We learn that Kelly has been through some trauma and has had past experiences of hallucinations and delusions, which has you questioning what and who is really in the story.
Excerpt from When I Was You by Amber Garza
“Well-baby?” I let out a surprised laugh. “You’re about nineteen years too late.”
“Excuse me?” Nancy asked, clearly confused.
“My son isn’t a baby,” I explained. “He’s nineteen.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Nancy immediately replied.
I could hear the clicking of a keyboard.
“I apologize. I called the wrong Kelly Medina.”
“There’s another Kelly Medina in Folsom?” My maiden name had been Smith. There are a million other Kelly Smiths in the world. In California, even. But since I’d married Rafael, I’d never met another Kelly Medina.
“Yes. Her child is a new patient.”
It felt like yesterday when my child was a new patient. I remembered sitting in the waiting room of Dr. Cramer’s office, holding my tiny newborn, waiting for the nurse to call my name.
“I have no idea how this happened. It’s like your numbers got switched in the system or something,” Nancy muttered, and I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or herself. “Again, I’m so sorry.”
I assured her it was fine, and hung up. My hair was still wet from the shower, but instead of blow-drying it I headed downstairs to make some tea first. On my way, I passed Aaron’s room. The door was closed, so I pressed it open with my palm. The wood was cold against my skin. Shivering, I took in his neatly made bed, the movie posters tacked to the wall, the darkened desktop computer in the corner. Leaning against the door frame of Aaron’s room, my mind flew back to the day he left for college. I remembered his broad smile, his sparkling eyes. He’d been so anxious to leave here. To leave me. I should’ve been happy for him. He was doing what I’d raised him to do. Boys were supposed to grow up and leave.
In my head I knew that. But in my heart it was hard to let him go. After closing Aaron’s door, I headed down to the kitchen. The house was silent. It used to be filled with noise—Aaron’s little feet stomping down the hallway, his sound effects as he played with toys, his chattering as he got older. Now it was always quiet. Especially during the week when Rafael stayed in the Bay Area for work. Aaron had been gone over a year. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. But, actually, it seemed to get worse over time. The constant silence. The phone call had thrown me. For a second it felt like I’d gone back in time, something I longed for most days. When Aaron was born everyone told me to savor all the moments because it went by too quickly. It was hard for me to imagine. I hadn’t had the easiest life growing up, and it certainly hadn’t flown by. And the nine months I was pregnant with Aaron had gone on forever, every day longer than the one before. But they were right.