THE REUNION - Simone van der Vlugt
Written in the first person, THE REUNION is Sabine's story. Suffering from depression she has been away from full-time work for quite a while, returning slowly to an office environment where the power base has shifted considerably since she's been gone. Sabine is a very fragile girl, with a difficult past.
As a very young schoolgirl Sabine and Isabel had been very best friends. Isabel is an epileptic and Sabine is one of the few people that aren't scared by these fits - who knows what to do when a fit starts. When the girls move into high school and boys, and clothes and being popular starts to matter, Isabel turns from Sabine's best friend to one of her principle torturers. Sabine is teased, picked on and bullied consistently with her only champion, her brother. One night, riding home from school, she follows Isabel and one of her new best friends. Isabel is never seen again after that night - no body is found and no trace of her ever encountered. Sabine could very well have been the last person to see her alive - but Sabine can't remember anything. The high school they both attended is planning a reunion, and the lead up to the reunion, and a chance encounter at work with a friend of her brothers, trigger the recall of fragments of disjointed memories - of childhood and of Isabel's last hours.
The story of Sabine and of Isabel - and their friends and lovers slowly unfolds as Sabine recalls and eventually reveals more about herself, the people around her and the way that she reacts to others. Slowly, every so slowly, there is also a revealing of the reactions that she is triggering.
A combination of the first person narrative and the way that the memories of events, and the reactions both of Sabine and those around her are revealed that gives THE REUNION a creepy, closed in, surreal feeling. The reader is pulled into feelings of great sympathy for the way that Sabine is treated - it seems by so many of the people around her. At the same time, there's something that's just a bit sinister about Sabine and it's that increasing sense of disquiet with Sabine that feeds the last part of the book. Slow burning, quietly needling, taut and more than a little disconcerting, THE REUNION is, at the same time, discomforting and fascinating.
Simone van der Vlugt was born in 1966. She is a major bestseller of pyschological thrillers in her native Holland where The Reunion has sold over 200,000 copies. Her three novels have sold over one million copies combined. She lives with her husband and two children in Alkmaar.
When Isabel disappeared, Sabine was fifteen, isolated at school and tormented by her former friend. She remembers nothing from that hot May day. Nine years later, unbidden memories are returning to Sabine. What if she saw something the day of Isabel's disappearance? What if she could put a name to the shadowy figure in her dreams? And what if her knowledge was dangerous?