They Called Me Wyatt, by Natasha Tynes

Thanks to the author for providing me a digital copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The publication of this book was jeopardized amidst turbulences due to a  tweet by the author that went viral and caused outrage. But the publisher, for legal reasons, decided to publish it in Kindle at least, so I publish my review as promised.

Siwar is a young Jordanian woman that came to the USA to study creative writing at the University of Maryland. She has finally found some freedom away from family and social pressure, and seems on the right track to realise her dreams. Until her life is cut short when someone shoves her from a roof. She dies… only to wake up in the body of three-year old Wyatt. The little boy must now share his mind and body with the vengeful and restless spirit of the dead woman. Her death was classified as a suicide but she is determined to get the truth out.

An unsettling premise. This woman roaming a toddler’s mind, using him selfishly to get her message out in the world. An overtaking of his life depriving of his control and sanity. But the unsettling makes for an intriguing story.

Poor Wyatt has many years of respite before Siwar comes to haunt him again. She needs answers, she needs her story to be told. Follows a quest for truth that will put strains to his family and friends…

Siwar is an ambivalent character. Her fate is horrible and the mystery surrounding her death is definitely intriguing. But in her quests for revenge and closure, she does not hesitate to interfere with the life and mental health of Wyatt. I must say that as curious as I was about her murder, I did not feel as much empathy for her as I would have expect. We get snippets of her life in Jordan as a child and teenager, her love for books, her thirst for freedom and yearn of love, all squashed by the expectations of her family and society in general. This allows us to get to know her more, but I did not feel attached. We also learn a lot about Wyatt and can’t help but wonder, at each choice he makes, if they are the product of his will or Siwar’s, the interplay between the two is endearing to follow.

The story forms a compelling mystery that only comes to a conclusion on the very last pages. I must say that after a last red herring, I began to see things coming. But still, the absence of tangible clues makes the mystery indecipherable for the most part, and the novel is largely a study of a fractured mind trying to cope with the intruder in his head, a telling of the game of cat and mouse between the two. It makes for an original and easy read. The writing is clear and simple, maybe a bit flat even. But a little futurist touch adds to the fun. There are a few interesting supporting characters, notably Hoda, Wyatt’s girlfriend and a gallery of suspects and relatives. I liked how the resolution did not feel too rushed, although it unfolds quite rapidly in the last pages, there is enough build-up to give meat to the novel.

All in all a pleasant although not exceptional read, that I would recommend for anyone wishing to relax in the company of a light psychological thriller with a twist.

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