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Friday, October 14, 2016

*Grabby Hands* Blog Tour & Review - The Row by J.R. Johnasson

 Title: The Row
Author: J.R. Johansson
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Category/Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Publisher: FSG/Macmillan

A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.

Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.

Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders. He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.  

J.R.  Johansson's books have been published in a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. She lives in Utah with two sons, a wonderful husband, three cats, and a hot tub named Valentino. 

She is represented by the stellar  Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Author Links:
4 “Daddy is a serial killer” Stars 

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, Macmillan.

The Row has one of those big premises that just catches your attention, you know? It certainly caught mine.

I’m a huge “Dexter” fan (Dex, I love you. Deb, I love you. Season 1 to 4, I love you), so when I hear a book/movie/TV show is about a “serial killer” in any way, I’m instantly like “where? When can I get my hands on it?” Which is completely weird. I’m well aware.

So, of course I was interested in reading about the daughter of a man accused of being a serial killer, who was trying to prove her Daddy’s innocence even though he was weeks away from execution. Of course.

And that’s really what this book is about: Riley, the daughter of a man in the death row, and how she deals with that fact.

Riley’s life since she was six has been reduced to that single fact: her father is a convicted murderer, and no one wants anything to do with her because of that. So Riley is lonely—even her mother doesn’t have time for her, and she only seems happy when it’s visitation day and she gets to talk to her Daddy.

From the start you get to see how strong Riley’s love and respect for her father is, which might seem odd because the man is accused of torturing and murdering three women, but you have to see it from her POV. To her, he’s just her Daddy. The one who was taken by the police when she was sick. The one who to this day claims to be innocent. Riley believes her father is innocent, and that belief comes across so genuine that you can’t help but think the same. Riley also holds on to the hope that her dad will find a way to get out and prove his innocence so tightly that you end up hoping for the same.

But the day her father loses his final appeal comes and his execution is scheduled. A desperate Riley tries to comfort her Daddy just to hear him confess his guilt. This is the moment everything changes for her,

Even though deep down she knows there’s a chance he’s just telling her this because he’s desperate and trying to push her away or trying to help her move on, her father’s confession opens to paths: he either lied to her when he said he was innocent or when he said he was guilty. Nonetheless, he lied to her.

It might seem like such a small thing for the rest of the world, especially when we’re talking about a man who’s weeks away from execution for a horrible crime, but it’s the moment that defines Riley’s relationship with her dad, with herself and even with the world. It’s the first step she takes into her life as an adult, and I love that symbolism.

Riley goes from the girl who believes in everything because her Daddy told her so to the young woman who wants to figure things out for herself. And she starts that by going after the truth about her father’s case. No more hiding and trying to ignore what happened there. No more believing in his innocence just because she had been told by her mom and dad he didn’t do it countless times.
Like I said, I loved that. I think it was a really smart to show a person’s relationship with her parents can define them and help redefine them even when said parents aren’t present (one in jail and one working too many hours).

It also helped that, at that point, I was completely involved in the plot and wanted to know the truth about her father’s case just as much as Riley.

Another positive was Riley’s relationship with Jason, the boy she shouldn’t have been friends with because of who his father was. I liked that Jason had a connection with Riley that dated back to before they even met—the picture thing was a really important piece of information that allowed me to accept that friendship faster.

I LOVED the ending. For a moment there, I thought I was going to be cheated of a real, meaninful ending, but then everything turned out the way it needed to be to make this story even better. So, thank you for that.

Overall, this book has a great premise and some great moments that kept me engaged from start to finish. It wasn’t my typical choice (light on romance), but one I don’t regret having made at all.

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