Kate’s Review: “I Hope You’re Listening”

Book: “I Hope You’re Listening” by Tom Ryan

Publishing Info: Aw Teen, October 2020

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC of this novel from NetGalley.

Book Description: In her small town, seventeen year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again. At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished. 

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this novel!

In the early stages of quarantine, I fell off listening to some of the true crime podcasts that I loved to listen to before. I don’t know why it was, but outside of “Last Podcast on the Left”, I just wasn’t feeling up for anything else. But one day I decided to try and pick up “My Favorite Murder” again, and started on the unsolved case of the Delphi Murders, in which two teenage girls were found dead after being on a daytime hike. While I liked getting back into the groove of podcasts as I went for a walk with my kid, that particular case is, like the other cases like it, very sad because we don’t know what happened. It just so happened that I was listening to this as I was reading “I Hope You’re Listening” by Tom Ryan, and the chaotic synergy of the universe kind of fell into place. And it made me appreciate “I Hope You’re Listening” all the more.

There are a couple of mysteries running around in the narrative of “I Hope You’re Listening”. The first is what happened to Dee’s best friend Sybil, who was taken when they were children and right in front of Dee’s eyes. Dee is the kind of protagonist that you see a fair amount in thrillers these days; she’s traumatized, she’s not very personable, and she has unpacked baggage regarding her trauma that affects her in many ways. But Ryan does a great job of making her feel realistic in her trauma without feeling like she has to be unlikable or ‘broken’. She has started running an anonymous podcast that tackles missing person cases, in hopes of solving mysteries to help cope with the mystery in her life that was never solved, and I think this device works perfectly for her plot line. I liked that Ryan doesn’t try to make her into a completely self destructive individual, but does show how her experiences has made her more ‘rough around the edges’ when it comes to dealing with other people.

The other mystery is a new child disappearance, this time of a girl named Layla, whose potential kidnapping brings a media frenzy to town and threatens to expose Dee to more reminders of her connection to Sybil, as well as expose her as the anonymous host of her popular podcast. As Dee tries to help solve Layla’s disappearance, she is pulled back into Sybil’s, and her obsession starts up again. Both mysteries are compelling as all get out, and seeing Dee try her hand at actual hands on detective work leads to many suspenseful moments of high stakes action.

There were a couple of things that kind of took me out of the story a bit. The first is merely a pacing issue, and I’m going to get a little spoiler here, so here is your warning:

So one of the biggest strengths of this book is Dee’s bourgeoning romance with new neighbor Sarah. I liked Dee and Sarah together, I thought that they had great chemistry and I was deeply invested in them as a couple. But the timeline on this book isn’t very long, and Sarah figures out that Dee is ‘The Seeker’, aka the host for the podcast. When she confronts Dee, Dee basically confirms it right away, and then they are suddenly passionately making out. It’s not so much them hooking up that I had a problem with, but Dee revealing her secret identity that only ONE other person knows (her best friend Burke) when she has kept it so secret and has been so paranoid about it for so long. It’s especially hard to swallow because a Nancy Grace-esque tabloid crime reporter is in town on the Layla case and wants to expose The Seeker, so for Dee to let her guard down on a girl she has just started to get to know when this dangerous woman is so close just felt unrealistic to Dee’s character. But hey, if that’s the worst thing I can find about this, that’s pretty good.

Overall, “I Hope You’re Listening” is a really engrossing mystery thriller, and I am thinking of gong back to read more of Ryan’s stuff. Pick this one up if you like thrillers AND true crime podcasts!

Rating 8: A page turner of a mystery that pulls you in, “I Hope You’re Listening” is sure to entertain fans of thrillers and true crime podcasts alike!

Reader’s Advisory:

“I Hope You’re Listening” is included on the Goodreads lists “

Find “I Hope You’re Listening” at your library using WorldCat, or a local independent bookstore using IndieBound!

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