One Step Behind
Sept 1st, 2020
One Step Behind by Lauren North shows why she is an up and coming psychological thriller author. Many of the characters are unlikeable, except for the victim, who readers will constantly root for. The story has betrayal, secrets, and surprises.
Dr. Jenna Lawson is an emergency room doctor. Trying to combine being a working mom, a wife, and there for her family she feels she is being pulled in many directions. But now she must also deal with a stalker. Frightening “gifts” are left on her doorstep, threatening emails are sent, her home is broken into, and when she leaves her house to take her children to school, he’s waiting. Jenna sees the stalker lurking behind trees and buildings, feeling that he is everywhere. She feels powerless, and the police are unable to help.
“I wrote Jenna as headstrong, anxious, career focused in the beginning of the story, and driven. As the book progresses, she realizes that being a mother is very important. She was the breadwinner and felt pressure to be everything to everyone. I made her an emergency room doctor to throw her directly together with her stalker. I loved the fact that emergency room doctors have such a fast pace without room to breathe. It made the perfect setting. She has been so trained to save lives instinct kicked in. It was like her switching off her mind in that high-pressured environment.”
While Jenna is at work, her stalker ends up being rushed into the emergency room and she is tasked with saving his life. Knowing that he has not only created terror for her, but also for her husband and children she wonders for a split second if she should let him die. Yet, her morals overtake her, and she saves his life, although he is now in a medically induced coma.
Coming to visit the stalker is his sister Sophie who thanks Jenna for saving her brother’s life. Readers learn of his background through Sophie who becomes a second narrator. They both had a terrible childhood, but she only hears her mother’s words that she is a big sister and has to take care of Matthew. Sophie tells in general terms about a tragedy the family had to endure twelve years ago that causes even more guilt for Sophie. The tension increases as the reader wonders if Jenna will ever have peace of mind again.
“On the surface the main theme is the relationship between the stalker and the victim. The victim feels they are never safe, which can make someone paranoid, and always seeing shadows. They feel the stalker is always there even when they are not. Jenna does not want to be a victim but wants to regain control and power over her own life. But there was also the theme of being a mother and the pressure of being a working mom. Jenna represents the mother’s point of view while Sophie gives the child’s point of view. In both cases, the mothers had to balance being there for support and help versus being the provider.”
Readers who enjoy a book that keeps then guessing and on alert will enjoy this one. As the suspense increases people will not want to put the book down.