Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

3.9 29
by Paula Daly

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In Paula Daly's pulse-pounding and gut-wrenching debut novel, motherhood, marriage, and friendship are tested when a small-town community is unsettled by a string of shocking events.

Lisa Kallisto is doing her best to juggle the demands of an overburdened life: she holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, cares for three demanding children, and


In Paula Daly's pulse-pounding and gut-wrenching debut novel, motherhood, marriage, and friendship are tested when a small-town community is unsettled by a string of shocking events.

Lisa Kallisto is doing her best to juggle the demands of an overburdened life: she holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, cares for three demanding children, and worries that her husband isn't getting enough TLC. During an incredibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for just a moment, and her whole world descends into a nightmare. Her best friend's thirteen-year-old daughter goes missing, and it's all Lisa's fault. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and having been publicly blamed, Lisa sets out to right her wrong. But as she begins digging beneath the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be.

Gripping and fast-paced, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? introduces an outstanding new thriller writer with a sharp eye and terrifying imagination for the horrors that lurk in our everyday lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and pitch-perfect characterizations mark British author Daly’s superb debut. Set in the Lake District, where history coexists with economic hardship, the story revolves around two mothers of teenage girls. Perpetually stretched by obligations to family and work, Lisa Kallisto knows she’s partly to blame when Lucinda, the daughter of her friend Kate Riverty, is abducted. Had Lisa properly followed up on the girl’s sleep-over plans with her own daughter, Lucinda’s absence would have been discovered a day earlier. As Det. Constable Joanne Aspinall compares the disappearance to a series of similar unsolved crimes, Lisa battles her self-doubt and tries to save the enviably perfect Kate from crumbling. Daly’s detailed, richly imagined world and surprising plot twists bring fresh life to the familiar theme of child abduction. In the end, the novel is not just an intriguing puzzle but also a nuanced exploration of friendship, motherhood, fallibility, and the mystery of human relationships. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory & Company (U,K.). (Sept.)
Library Journal
Lisa Kallisto is overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed by life. So when she gets the call from her daughter’s best friend’s mother asking, “The girls okay?,” she automatically responds, “What? Yes, fine.” After all, her daughters are okay. What she doesn’t know (yet) is that her daughter’s best friend Lucinda was supposed to have spent the night at her house. With a rapist on the loose and one girl already abducted, Lisa can’t shake the feeling that it’s her fault another girl is missing. Determined to make things right, she sets out to find Lucinda but soon discovers that things may not be quite as they once seemed. First-time author Daly has crafted a taut, gripping thriller about ordinary suburban life turned upside down. What happens when the ugly truths are revealed from behind carefully constructed facades? What happens to friendships when a tragedy strikes? What happens to the families?

Verdict Thriller and mystery lovers alike will devour this book. Daly has perfected the essence of British suburban life and how easily it can fall apart. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13; library marketing.]—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Daly's debut novel explores how interpersonal relationships wax and wane following the disappearance of a local child. Lisa Kallisto is one of those overworked, overscheduled mothers who never secure enough sleep at night. After getting her three kids off to school, working all day as the manager of a charitable animal shelter and taking care of her household, she's lucky to get a few minutes to herself. So when her daughter's friend Lucinda turns up missing after she was supposed to spend the night at Lisa's home, Lisa is full of blame and self-loathing. And she's not the only one who finds herself at fault: Most of Lucinda's family, the police and even her own husband, Joe, think Lisa should have paid more attention to what the two young teens were doing. Now, it looks like the kidnapper, who has already abducted one other girl, is at it again, and Lisa is trying to put the pieces together. So is Joanne Aspinall, an investigator with the local police in the small English town where both Lisa's and Lucinda's families live, and Joanne's finding that things are growing more and more curious as the pieces to the puzzle refuse to fit together. Daly has a nice writing style: It's casual, readable and full of natural-sounding dialogue. Readers will like Lisa, the protagonist, but most likely be puzzled at her insistence (and that of others around her) that it's all her fault. That hole in the basic premise doesn't constitute a fatal flaw, but if Daly really wanted Lisa to have her hands dirty, she could have made her part in the proceedings stronger. As it is, readers may find themselves puzzled over the degree of angst and self-recrimination that hovers around Lisa throughout the book. And Joanne, although likable, comes off as weak and sports an irritating habit of turning her phone off, meaning she misses vital calls. The characters and motivations lack balance, but the storytelling and Daly's voice are top-drawer.
From the Publisher

Starred review. ""...this intriguing blend of suspense tale and domestic drama, which has a number of delicious plot twists, will keep readers riveted."" - Booklist

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Paula Daly lives in Cumbria County in North West England with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy. She is a freelance physiotherapist.

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Just What Kind of Mother Are You? 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
I've been Lisa Kallisto. The mom who has said yes to too many things. Only after agreeing to just about everything, I soon find I can't handle hardly anything. This is Lisa. She wants to be a good mother, she wants to be a great mother and I believe is trying to compete without realizing it (don't we all on some level). She simply has to many balls in the air, I've been there. She needed to make a phone call--one simple phone call, but she simply got busy with life and didn't. The phone call she didn't make leads to the abduction of her daughter's best friend, Lucinda, a young thirteen year old girl. Lucinda's mother is a good friend of  Lisa's. How do you apologize--how do you live with that? You are responsible for a young girl gone missing. Reading this almost seemed like a mission. I wanted to get it read and by reading it maybe Lucinda would make her way home. I know this sounds silly, but I couldn't put this book down. I wanted her home. I wanted everything to be ok, I wanted that sense of, "oh my goodness I can relate to Lisa--but I don't want to think about that" to end. The novel is told with alternating perspectives of Lisa, Detective Joanne Aspinall, and a few small chapters of a dark voice that made my skin crawl. Detective Joanne is very different than Lisa. She is very cautious and meticulous. The two different perspectives really worked well with moving the novel forward as these two women try to put the pieces of what happened to Lucinda together. I felt this was a can't put down thriller. With each passing chapter I felt like I knew even less that I did before-and I loved that I had no idea how this would end. And let me tell you I was not prepared for the ending! Be ready for staying up late to read this one! I am highly recommending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't say enough good things about this book. Daly nails the voices of people living in a small rural community and dealing with a child predator. The twists were novel and fresh. I can't wait to see what Daly puts out next. Highly recommended.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A top shelf, riveting and powerful debut novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You, by British author Paula Daly is a compelling novel—a read for every woman, living a harried lifestyle, trying to balance work, home, and family. Filled with humor and emotion, this book will keep you turning into the night, for a mix of suspense, mystery, thriller, family drama, crime, and women’s fiction. Set in the Lake District, with economic hardship, and busy families, centered on two mothers of teenage girls. Lisa and taxi driver husband, Joe live a hectic life, struggling financially, where Lisa tries to balance her stressing job managing the local dog shelter, a non-profit, even checking out the homes of animals to be placed, running her home, and juggling the kids. When her daughter's friend Lucinda turns up missing after she was supposed to spend the night at Lisa's home, Lisa is wrecked with guilt and blame. There is drama and suspense coming from every direction, not knowing who can be trusted. The lengths one mother will go in order to keep her family. As tragedy strikes, what comes next is shocking as nothing is as it appears—when ugly truths are uncovered. Thriller and mystery lovers alike will devour, as well as fans of highly charged subjects, mixed with humor: JoJo Moyes, Liane Moriarty, Carla Buckley, Diane Chamberlain, Sarah Pekkanen, Amy Hatvany, and Jennifer Weiner will appreciate the humor and complexity! The audiobook was outstanding, as the narrator, Laura Brattan offered an excellent performance, and found myself laughing out loud, at some of the one-liners. Looking forward to reading Daly’s latest novel, “Keep Your Friends Close”, Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Daly has made it to my favorite author list and one readers will want to follow! Well- developed characters, excellent plot planning, and fast-paced action, making for a winning debut of motherhood, friendship, and complex relationships.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the type of book that draws you in as if you're living it. Although I am not a big reader of mysteries, this one really captured nmy attention. List of twists and turns that keep you guessing just what the ending is going to be.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
This stunning debut novel from Paula Daly is a breathtaking tale of ostensibly normal lives torn asunder. Lisa Kallisto, who runs an animal shelter, lives in a small village holding 260 houses in the English Lake district. Just a few days before Christmas, her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter disappears, and the only thing more horrifying to Lisa is the fact that it appears to have been her fault. The author makes palpable the guilt which wracks the overworked and overwhelmed mother of three. And apparently this is not the first adolescent girl in the area to have been kidnapped, nor is she the last. As Lisa says: “There is nothing as bad as a missing child. Nothing at all.” The investigation is headed up by D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. Both women are in their late thirties, and the author focuses much of the book on these two women, wonderfully well-drawn, as are the other characters. The book is not as dark as one might expect, dealing as it does with such perverted acts. It is certainly suspenseful. Not edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, perhaps, at least until Day 4. As the tale comes to a close, what came to mind was my mother’s old adage: One never knows what goes on behind someone else’s closed doors. And everyone has a secret (or two). I read this book in a little more than 24 hours, and it is highly recommended.
SpeedSD More than 1 year ago
GREAT READ! This is a different perspective on a horrifying event. In this very hectic day and age, horrible things have happened to children that have been forgotten by a parent in one way or another (left in the back of a car, left at the daycare, etc. etc.). How horrible it would be to happen to your own child..... but what if you forgot you were responsible for another person's child? This was an edge-of-your seat read for me. There were lots of twists and turns, and an ending that I didn't see coming. It kept me up till the wee hours of the morning as I just had to see what turned up next. Thanx so very much Ms. Daley for an excellent read. Cannot wait to see what you come up with next. -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First time I have read anything from this author . Will continue to purchase any of her books
AvidReaderREE 10 months ago
Holy cow! So many twists and turns throughout this novel, secrets and lies all throughout this little town but the REAL story is even more intense! Paula Daly has a gift! She keeps the reader intrigued from the very first chapter and it just gets to a point in the novel where I do not want to put the book down. This novel follows Lisa, a small town very busy working mom, who always is juggling many things all in the air but all at once feels as though everything has plummeted to the ground; Lisa is the cause of her best friend Kate's daughter missing, or so everyone is ready to say very quickly. Lucinda (Kate's daughter) and Sally (Lisa's daughter) were supposed to have a weeknight sleepover because of a school project, but that day of Sally felt sick and didn't go to school so juggling Lisa didn't think anything about it....until no one had seen Lucinda for over a day. And everyone, including Kate, is blaming Lisa. As the story unfolds all these little secrets and lies begin coming out and Lisa is not as guilty as she seems, but the most surprising people in the town are the ones who are really guilty. A must read for those that like mystery thriller novels, this is definitely an author I will keep coming back to.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
Imagine this scenario: Local girls are being abducted and assaulted. The most recent disappearance was your daughter's friend - a thirteen year old who was under your watch at the time - but you weren't paying attention. The million things you have to do in a day distracted you. A lost moment you can never redo, guilt-fed emotions that never leave, and a bunch of fingers (primarily your own) pointing straight at you. Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is a psychological thriller/mystery novel written by Paula Daly. While reading, I almost lost track of who the author was. The writing style had a Liane Moriarty feel to it. It followed the characters rather than just the events, all with impressive layering and complexity. Ms. Moriarty is one of my favorite authors so that's a real compliment! In my opinion, this mystery/thriller had a strong women's fiction element incorporated in it. After all, far too many women can relate to feeling overwhelmed while balancing work, parenting, marriage/relationships, and self-care...all while trying to excel in each role. It's irrational and exhausting, and no doubt takes our attention away from other crucial areas. This novel speaks to this common concern as well as other important issues (which I can't reveal for fear of spoiling the mystery). All I can say is I truly cannot believe this is a debut novel. I was completely engaged and the twists and turns had me eager to find out how this story played out. The ONLY negative in my personal reading experience was the addition of a brief but very disturbing perspective. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, mysteries, family dramas, women's issues, crime investigations, and fairly dark suspense, then check out this novel and get ready to add another author to the top of your list. Enjoy! My favorite quotes: "It seems that every time I think a person has got things sorted, every time I think a person's got everything under control and is holding their life together in far better ways than I could ever hope to manage, they turn out to be taking antidepressants." “I begin reading an article on a posh celebrity who lives in Bermuda. She's someone I've never heard of who's loosely connected to the royal family. She's all blonde hair and legs, late thirties. She's just had her first baby. “It's amazing”, she beams. “It's the most incredible thing. It's so beautiful. It's astonishing. There's so much love.” I shut the magazine with disgust, mentally dusting my hands. Just once, once I'd like to come across a new mother in a magazine who says, “I'm finding this really hard. It's not at all like I thought it would be. I don't think I'll be having another. And,” she says this next part sniffing into a hanky, “My husband's been next to useless. I thought he'd make a wonderful father, but well, he's leaving it all to me. He's been a complete d*ck actually.”
SharonDG More than 1 year ago
A fast-paced and engaging thriller, this book is a fun read in many ways. Being in Lisa's head as she goes through the self-doubts and the blame surrounding Lucinda's disappearance is painful and believable. The characters are well-developed although none is particularly likeable. The story has a number of exciting twists and turns but the ending, while clever, seemed a little too contrived. Nevertheless I would recommend this book as a good quick read.
MargoH More than 1 year ago
When I first saw the title of this book, I assumed it was either another self-help book or an Erma Bombeck–style humor book. However, it is a real novel with considerable substance and an absorbing plot. Set in northern England’s Lake District, the main character, Lisa Kallisto. mother of three in a family with limited income, thinks of herself as largely a failure as a mother, wife, and homemaker. On the other hand, she regards her best friend Kate, besides being well-to-do, as doing everything right. Kate’s13-year-old daughter disappears, apparently abducted and raped like two other 13-year-old girls in the area, and Lisa blames herself because she feels she could have prevented it. The novel has an intriguing plot that kept me turning pages right up until the end. The ending is surprising and for the most part a happy one. I felt, however, that the plot suffers a bit by requiring that the resolution of the mystery depends too much on many highly improbably coincidences. Also, a bit too much space is given to descriptions of things that seem to have nothing to do with the plot, such as for example, an account Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall’s encounter with her physician when attempting to schedule breast-reduction surgery. (The reason in this case becomes a bit more understandable from the author’s note at the end of the book: Her major reason for writing this particular novel is to illustrate her belief that women are under too much stress to perform as wives and mothers in today’s culture and are thus prone to have inferiority complexes.) Because many of the characters in the story are seriously dysfunctional people, I felt a bit unsettled by the story and its outcome. However, it is a good book and is worth the money.
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booksnoopks More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book up to a point. It was great up until the end when it seemed the author ran out of steam.
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lakraft More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. This is the type that keeps you guessing through the entire book just to find out at the end that there was absolutely no way you could ever have figured this one out! I was shocked with the ending but still pleased. A great read for anyone that enjoys a good mystery!
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Sonfollower More than 1 year ago
Very good, but two plot aspects involving the main protagonist seemed a bit contrived. I would still highly recommend it; good twists and I definitely wanted to find out what was going on!
kathyKNY More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, however, it is not a favorite. I thought the idea was great, but in my opinion it could have been writen better. The author added a few details that were not necessary, and then left out details where I felt they needed to be added. I did enjoy the book and I read it quickly, I wanted to see how it ended.