The Pretender

Set primarily in 1975 Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, spanning approximately three years, Ta’Mara Hanscom’s The Pretender is likely to leave readers extremely frustrated.

An early description of artwork by the main character, Tillie Caselli left me scratching my head over the somewhat jumbled chain of events that follows.  Even rereading the confusing portion provided no clarity.  The artwork itself is integral to the story, resurfacing in the final chapter.

Adding to my frustration is Tillie’s misinterpretation of a scene she witnesses. Her reaction alters the entire course of not just her life, but also the lives of several others close to her.  Not only does she make a snap judgment, when family members learn portions of the truth, they withhold the information from her.

Emigrated from Italy shortly before Tillie’s birth, the Caselli family is close-knit, well connected and wealthy.  Each of her four brothers is extremely successful & dotes on their baby sister.  The ease with which this family glides through life is almost sickening.

Pieces of the story do not seem to fit like an apparent kidnapping of Tillie’s brother Vinceno’s wife, Tara.  Mention is made of the event, but no details are provided, and given this is the first book, one would expect the author to either expound or never make mention.

There is also Maggie May, a bartender not connected with the family and yet at the story’s end, she is frustrated over something dealing with a presumed connected to the Caselli family.

The book kept my interest, hoping Tillie would either discover the truth for herself, or her family would tell her the secrets they held.  Hanscom does a fabulous job baiting the hook for the next story in the Caselli Family Series because this reader definitely wants to know what happens.

*A complimentary copy of the book was provided in exchange for this review.

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