Book Review: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

blood

Rating:  4 / 5

Lana Granger is currently a psychology student at a small college in upstate New York.  With her trust fund almost depleted, she becomes a nanny for young boy, Luke.  Luke has behavioral issues, and has been known to manipulate his peers into doing harmful acts.  Lana has some experience with this, for she has a past that she’s hidden from everyone, and has told so many lies about her childhood that she’s not even sure what is real and what are lies. When one of Lana’s friends and roommate goes missing, and Lana is the last one to see her, suspicion is cast on Lana’s past, and everything she has tried so hard to hide.

I ended up really enjoying In The Blood, but it was a slow simmer. The story is propelled through flashbacks and diary entries, though it isn’t clear the identity of the writer.  Lana is an unreliable narrator, and not all that likable.  Unger takes her time revealing Lana’s true identity, but there’s enough bits and pieces laid out to keep the reader interested.  There have been traumatic events in Lana’s past, and early on the reader knows that Lana’s mother has died, though the real reasons and the gristly details are saved for later.  Lana does not fit in, but has adapted and learned socially acceptable behavior, so people around her don’t know what to make of her when Beck goes missing.  Everybody knows that Lana was the last to see her alive, but Lana is uncertain as to Beck’s whereabouts.  As she lies to authorities about what happened, some people begin to suspect that Lana had a major role in her roommate’s disappearance.

While In the Blood could have been an easy missing persons read on a cold winter night, Unger steps it up by adding in the psychological aspect.  It’s a disturbing question to ask, but how much does genetics play in determining a person’s identity and actions?  Can troubled people be treated, or will they always be a menace to society?  In the Blood is the perfect book to curl up with during a snowstorm (and if you live in the Northeast, you know there have been plenty of those lately). 

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