Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Black eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Photo Credit: Ballantine Books- Aug 11

This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

Black-Eyed Susans

Summary from Goodreads:

I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.
I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.
The lucky one.

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

Now, almost two decades later, Tessa is an artist and single mother. In the desolate cold of February, she is shocked to discover a freshly planted patch of black-eyed susans—a summertime bloom—just outside her bedroom window. Terrified at the implications—that she sent the wrong man to prison and the real killer remains at large—Tessa turns to the lawyers working to exonerate the man awaiting execution. But the flowers alone are not proof enough, and the forensic investigation of the still-unidentified bones is progressing too slowly. An innocent life hangs in the balance. The legal team appeals to Tessa to undergo hypnosis to retrieve lost memories—and to share the drawings she produced as part of an experimental therapy shortly after her rescue.

What they don’t know is that Tessa and the scared, fragile girl she was have built a  fortress of secrets. As the clock ticks toward the execution, Tessa fears for her sanity, but even more for the safety of her teenaged daughter. Is a serial killer still roaming free, taunting Tessa with a trail of clues? She has no choice but to confront old ghosts and lingering nightmares to finally discover what really happened that night.

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

This isn’t my first Julia Heaberlin book- I’d read LIE STILL in the last couple of years. When I just happened to see this in an email from Netgalley, I knew I would request it.

Let’s talk Tessa- the story is told in 2 parts- Tessa as a 16 year old and Tessa, later in life. I personally like the past to present narrative- clues are being dropped- but there is also enough of an “unreliable narrator” feel to make you question things- and not take everything at face value.

Surviving the attack, being the only Black-Eyed Susan victim to live is a notoriety that Tessa is not proud to be known for. She worries about her daughter. She worries about herself (hello! Wouldn’t you? Especially when Black-Eyed Susans mysteriously appear in places?)

As the book twists and turns- the reader is never quite sure what is going to happen next. Sometimes, it seems that the book takes 2 steps forward to take 1 step back- and yet, that’s part of it’s charm. It keeps you guessing!

While there are bits and pieces I was able to guess- the final twists was not something I picked up on- and I love that. I like when the author figuratively rips the mask of the bad guy and I’m all “It’s YOU!” #loveit

My 2 cents: Like suspense? Like stories that flip from the past to the present? An unreliable narrator? Put BLACK-EYED SUSANS on your list!


*This book was requested by Traveling With T from Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.*


Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

T @ Traveling With T

T Traveling With T pic sign off

4 thoughts on “Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

  1. I just got this to review in the UK (with a Black Eyed Susan tied round it with a black ribbon!) and I started it almost right away. Already I can see I’m going to have to squeeze it in round my other planned reads…!

    • Oh wow! I received an e-galley (which I kind of hate- because THAT COVER- squee!) I think it is so good- and if you enjoy this book, I urge you to check out her previous book LIE STILL!

  2. I love stories that flip from the past to the present! I would have guessed that I wouldn’t like unreliable narrators, but the few books I’ve read with unreliable narrators have been books I really enjoyed, so I’d like to try more 🙂

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