Release Day Review: Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield

, by Kt Clapsadl

Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield 

Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year's Fourth of July festival won't see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects. The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing's wrong.

And they're not the only ones hiding something.

Clare, a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people's pasts when she touches their clothes. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year's Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.

In a town where appearance means everything, how deep beneath the surface will Clare dig to uncover a murderer?

The Fourth of July festivities in Clare's childhood home aren't quite as she remembers them when she and her mother move back into their ancestral home. For the past two years a child has gone missing, never to return and the media proclaims worries of a third occurrence. The locals are just as worried, but they rely on tourism for much of their income so everyone is putting on a smile and acting like nothing is wrong. Yet Clare knows differently when she finds one of the missing girl's jacket due to her special gift. She can see the past through articles of clothing that people have worn, and the jacket holds more secrets than she has ever known. She knows this is one mystery she should stay out of, but the compulsion to find the truth is too strong, even if it means putting her directly in harm's way.

One of my biggest issues with Hanging by a Thread was the very large amount of pages that the sewing aspect took up. Although I have sewn a few things in the past, I definitely was not drawn in by Clare's obsession with it. I have to admit that my eyes wound up crossing several times at the lengthy fashion descriptions as I am most definitely not a fan of designers. All I really care about is that my colors don't clash, and that I don't look like a total fool when I walk out the door. Clare however spent an agonizingly long time planning out every outfit down to the last minute detail, with very lengthy descriptions to go along with this process. I mean, I'm glad the girl had a passion for something, and it was obvious how much sewing and designing clothing meant to her, but unfortunately it just didn't translate well in the story. I found myself skimming and wishing she would just move on with things several times throughout the story, which didn't make for the best of reads. 

I could have overlooked my issue with the overabundance of sewing and fashion if I could have formed a strong attachment to any of the characters. It usually is rather easy to form a bond with the main character in a first person narrative, because it allows you to be directly inside their head. However, in Hanging by a Thread, I couldn't form that connection with Clare as I felt like I was constantly being narrated to rather than immersed in the story like I would have preferred. I couldn't even connect to the love interest because in all honesty the only thing Clare showed any real passion about were the fashion aspects, everything else just felt like she was going through the motions. Sure, she said she felt this immense draw towards the guy, but it was never really shown. The only character that seemed "real" to me was Clare's grandmother, but she doesn't play a very large role in the story, leaving me with a bad case of character disconnect.

This book had so much potential, but in the end only wound up being mediocre at best for me. I had such high hopes for it because I absolutely loved Sophie's Aftertime series with a passion, so I was looking for more of the same style writing. In all honesty I could have never guessed that the same person wrote these very different stories. Don't get me wrong, the writing wasn't bad, it just didn't have even a shred of the impact that the Aftertime series does. In all honesty, I probably would have abandoned this book very early on if it had not been for my desire to find out the answers to the mystery. To make matters worse, I had a pretty good idea rather early on at what those answers would be, so it became a matter of just confirming my suspicions. Perhaps this book would appeal to bigger fans of sewing and fashion, but for me, it just didn't really work. 

(Received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley)

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