THE DAY I DIED by Lori Rader-Day

William Morrow

April 11, 2017

Sometimes the most arbitrary decisions can have the biggest impact on our lives. The protagonist in THE DAY I DIED by Lori Rader-Day, , makes one of these seemingly arbitrary decisions. Anna Winger selects Parks, Indiana, as the next city she and her son move to because it has a Dairy Bar, just like the one she worked at in her small hometown in northern Wisconsin. This choice sets her on a path that will put her life and her son’s life in danger.

Anna Winger is a handwriting analyst who gets called to assist the Parks sheriff when a little boy and his mother go missing. She reluctantly agrees to help in the search, but thinks that the mother is trying to escape an abusive relationship. This case hits very close to home to Anna as she can see herself in the mother and understands why she’s on the run.

Anna left her home in northern Wisconsin to escape her abusive boyfriend and protect her unborn son. She has been trying to keep a low profile since by moving to a new city every couple of years. This constant moving is taking its toll on her now-teenage son, Joshua, and she tries to establish roots in Parks. Joshua begins to ask questions about Anna’s life in Wisconsin and her family. Unfortunately, the questions lead to Joshua’s disappearance. This forces Anna to race against time to find her son, the missing child, and his mother. In the process, she finds that you can only hide from your past for so long.

THE DAY I DIED showcases Rader-Day’s ability to craft a captivating character-driven story. For example, early in her time in Parks, Anna attempts to fit in with the high school football booster club moms. We see how uncomfortable it is for her to let her guard down and be herself. At the same time, there is a glimpse into how close-knit small town communities are and how challenging it can be to break into the local social circles.

The tight prose ensures that there are no wasted scenes in the book. Rader-Day, a Mary Higgins Clark award winning author, masterfully handles the book’s multiple plotlines and brings them all to a satisfying conclusion. I frequently found myself trying to guess where the plot would turn next, and I was outsmarted every time. That challenge made me want to keep turning the pages. THE DAY I DIED is Lori Rader-Day’s third book and continues the meteoric rise of a very talented author.