Quick review for a quick read. Dude, I haven't felt so completely conflicted after reading a book in a long while, as far as emotions are concerned. I don't think this book started off on the strongest note, but it had its moments which carried it forward, so it kept me reading. This is one of those stories where I absolutely hated the characters, but I ended up liking the story. (Figure that out.)
Gilly is a woman who's not exactly a model for self-control. She's very flawed - put at her wits end with patience in a life that she should otherwise be thankful for (according to her). Her screaming kids who don't give her a moment's worth of quiet, her husband who seems to be away too much - she longs for having moments to herself and to just get away from it.
In a twist of fate, things get complicated really quickly when a man holds her at knifepoint with her kids in the car. Now this scenario could've gone many, many ways, but Gilly's able to get her kids out of the car and she ends up having a chance to escape. But she doesn't. And I'm like "Woman, what are you doing? Go!" (Which is a very palpable, understandable reaction if this were the kind of story where you're following someone who is in a race for your life/survival situation.)
This is not that kind of story, however. I think it's actually far more messed up than that, considering Gilly doesn't get away from her captor the very moment she has the opportunity. On one hand, she almost welcomes her quieter state of captivity (like WTF?) and yet at the same time she genuinely wants to go back to her family - but it's all twisted up in her head. That's how you know that the two of these characters are more alike than one would think - and that's something that's established from almost the get go. What happens is a steady steamroll of two character studies that feel genuine but at the same time off-putting. Gilly's life expansion is something of a deterioration based on her relationship with her family and her own insecurities. Todd, her captor, is a desperate man who somehow felt he would do one last thing to keep himself from going to prison, but ended up screwing himself over after a series of one tragic events after another in his life. I'll admit there were moments I felt for Todd given what happened to his family and his time in the foster system and his genuine lack of any reliable feminine figures in his life. So he has this confliction of holding on to Gilly because she represents something that pulls him but repels him at the same time.
The scary thing to me is that I could actually see some things that occur in this book happen in real life. It's not a romance - far from it. It's a twisted tale, and I think I realized just how much given the 0-60 the story takes as it marches towards the end. There are lighter moments in the book between the interactions of the characters, but they're tentative and fleeting. I thought the first twist towards the end involving Gilly was brilliant, because it made sense and I wasn't expecting it at all. (Though given the signs, I should've known. I keep wracking my brain like "Rose, you should've seen that coming, the signs were THERE, for crying out loud." Nope, I didn't.) Second twist, to me wasn't that great and I felt like it was undermining given Todd's situation (like his life wasn't already messed up as it was, plus the reveal just felt like it came out of almost nowhere and contrary to something that was presented as fact in the story.).
Third twist just turned this book into morbidly dark territory for all it was worth. I think the "Precious and Fragile Things" that are referenced in the title might be the fragile hold these characters had onto so many aspects of their life and psyche.
This was a good book - didn't like the characters but really appreciated the story. At the same time it was hard to read - some parts in good ways but others I think the execution could've been a bit better.
P.S. I blame this book for getting "Precious" by Depeche Mode stuck in my head. It fits better than one would think.
Overall score: 4/5 stars.