Book review: Tell Me What I Am is an unsettling thriller with a literary sensibility

Una Mannion’s taut novel presents a lacerating portrait of domestic abuse and examinations of identity and the ferocity of grief

Una Mannion’s new novel deftly illustrates how an abuser can make a victim complicit in their abuse. Picture: Ed Lee

Una Mannion’s taut novel Tell Me What I Am is haunted by an absence. In 2004, Deena Garvey is living in Philadelphia with her young daughter Ruby and her sister Nessa. One morning, Deena leaves for work but never arrives.

Deena has shared custody of Ruby with her estranged partner Lucas. Nessa believes Lucas is responsible for Deena’s disappearance, but can’t prove it.

Lucas then moves Ruby over 600 kilometres away to live with him ...