What happens when you spend years burying your past only to have it catch back up with you at the worst possible time? What happens if you even go so far to relocate to another continent and country, only to be found anyway? Things could get complicated pretty fast, that's what. This is the scenario the main character Lina has to face in Emily Barr's second novel, Baggage.
Once upon a time Lina was living under a different name in the bustling city of London, but when things went horribly wrong and she ended up on trial for a crime she unintentionally committed, she got desperate enough to fake her own suicide and relocate to Australia. Fast forward to more than ten years later: Lina is living in Australia in the small, dusty town of Craggy Rock. She has a son and a husband, and is expecting another baby. Her life is good; not perfect, but she imagines herself to be content. She has fulfilling job as a schoolteacher, and things are just fine.
But when her best friend from her old life suddenly spots her one day while vacationing in Australia, Lina is shaken and desperate to get away before she can be found out. However, her old friend Jessica has other ideas. She is determined to find out why her old best friend, whom she'd thought was dead all this time, is suddenly alive and well and pretending not to know her. Jessica and her boyfriend, a sleazy journalist desperate to get the story of a lifetime, head back to Australia to uncover the truth.
Emily Barr has created in Baggage a suspenseful, personal and engaging story. The characters are simple yet appealing, and the story moves along at a fairly quick pace. At 227 pages, Baggage is a perfect book to read when you want to escape your own reality. The novel's strengths are its well-defined characters and easy to read prose.
One downside, though, is that the main characters seem to be almost too simple at times. Sometimes they strtay out of character, which can cause a little reader confusion. I found at least one inconsistency in the plot, regarding the adoption of Lina's son, Red. Also, the ending might disappoint some, as it doesn't really divulge the details you would want to know and leaves the reader hanging.
Still, overall Baggage is a good, enjoyable read, able to capture and pretty much hold the reader's attention until the end.