Between the covers: Substitute Me

Say it Rah-shay By Feb 23, 2011 No Comments

I’ve just finished Lori L Tharp’s Substitute Me and not quite sure how I feel about the book. The tweet that alerted me to the book described it as a thriller that was full of suspense yet the thrills and suspense I sought were not quite as spine tingling as promised.

Substitute Me begins when Zora Anderson, a Black thirty year old educated woman answers an ad to be a nanny for Kate Carter, a new mother returning to work after the birth of her first child. Zora is seemingly the perfect fit to the Carter household; she and Kate’s son Oliver bond, while Zora and Kate are not friends, they Kate does become more and more comfortable with her and trusts her Zora with more and more responsibility in the household as Kate’s work demands more and more of her time and attention. Kate is married to Brad, a stockbroker who secretly wishes to change the world or at least get another job. Brad is not thrilled with Zora; he experiences some guilt that his family is a cliche having hired a Black nanny but eventually he and Zora become closer and well without spoiling the end, there are is no happy ending.

I love Lori’s writing; she takes time to create and craft the story. The story seemed to move very slowly at times but this was no mistake. Lori wrote a story of characters that were learning more about what they wanted from life, learning who they are and the wonderful way she weaved these lives laid a foundation for characters who were very real and familiar for most of the book. This delicately built plot lasted for the majority of the book but I found that the last few chapters made Kate a martyr, Zora and Brad villains and characters, who were all fairly written relegated to familiar stereotypes.

Having never needing a nanny BUT needing a substitute when it came to other taking care of The Bee issues, I can understand why this book has been called a cautionary tale. As Kate’s insecurities about her position in the company translates into a need to work more and more, her absence from the home allows Brad and Zora time to grow closer. Kate and Brad’s seemingly perfect union has flaws and cracks that almost forced Brad to seek companionship with someone else. Minor characters suddenly developed into unlikable people and found myself rushing to the end only to wish for more.

Overall I liked the book and would recommend it. Lori’s writing is amazing and just because *I* didn’t care for all of the characters, this is no reason to give up on the book. Check out this book, available at your local library, and let’s talk:
What do you think about the idea of a substitute for yourself in your life?



I am mom, daughter, sister, yarn lover, word lover, crazy cat lady and library chick. Find me with book or with hook and a hot cuppa.

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