Just Read: “56 Days” by Catherine Ryan Howard

Read September 2, 2021 – September 3, 2021

Another one from the TBR shelf, I’m so proud of me… except I may or may not go to the bookstore this weekend and get more books. The crowd of books waiting to be read is never really getting smaller! 56 Days grabbed my attention in July as one of the Book of the Month picks because I also was in a brief pre-COVID relationship where we were sort of pushed together for quarantine and… while neither one of us died, I would say COVID revealed the red flags needed to kill the short lived matchup about 56 days later. 

What is it about? 

Ciara recently moved to Dublin for work and lives in a tiny apartment by herself. She meets a slightly older guy, Oliver, while shopping just after one of the first confirmed cases of COVID pops up in Ireland. They bond over a shared love for NASA, who doesn’t love space, and end up exchanging numbers and meeting for a drink. Shortly after their first date or two, it’s clear Ireland is going to start a series of lockdowns and heavy restrictions – they don’t call it a lockdown like they do here in the US but it’s very similar circumstances and timelines.

It becomes a sort of no brainer to spend the 2-week quarantine together and Oliver offers to have her at his place because he has more room. He is living in a large corporate housing style apartment but Ciara doesn’t really know much about the guy. They think they are making the decision to live together for 2 weeks but it becomes longer, we all know how the start of the pandemic went, and somehow one of them dies – head busted open, decomposing, not virus related. An investigation takes place and someone in the complex has more information about what might have happened but she’s holding back. 

What does it have?

  • Pandemic Relationships
  • Unreliable Narrator
  • Murder (Warning: Brief graphic child murder)
  • Multiple Timelines & Narrators

I enjoy a good unreliable narrator; I wrote my Master’s Thesis about four of Jim Thompson’s unreliable narrators! This book presents a super relatable lead, Ciara, and describes her overthinking process while meeting Oliver perfectly. During one of their initial conversations “Ciara senses that something has changed, that she’s lost him somewhere along the line. What was it that she did? She has no clue, but knows she can look forward to lying awake in the dark and wondering for days to come, forensically analyzing everything she said and then reanalyzing it, trying to find the wrong thing, the mistake, the regret.” I laughed out loud reading this and some of her other thoughts during the first chapters. I didn’t realize initially how twisted the story would get or how unreliable the narrator actually was, a lot changes as the story progresses and the reader is left questioning what they thought they knew. 

Is it worth reading?

Another one that I liked but is also not for everyone. The graphic scene about 70% in with the child being murdered is probably a deal breaker for some and I know many people aren’t ready to read fiction about a pandemic we are still experiencing. I hope that more authors write about the whole COVID experience, though, because it’s what we are going through, it’s something relevant to connect with. Next time a post-lockdown romance, sans-death? I’ll keep my eyes open.

One thought on “Just Read: “56 Days” by Catherine Ryan Howard

  1. Great breakdown of the book 56 days by Catherine Ryan Howard made me want to read the book after all the relationships today is different because of the Pandemic

    Liked by 1 person

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