Book Review / Carola Lovering / Reviews with Spoilers

Carola Lovering | Bye, Baby

The Book: 

Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering
Published March 5, 2024 by St. Martin’s Press
Date read: October 28, 2023

The Characters: 

Billie and Cassie

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon

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The Plot (from Goodreads):

A missing baby. A fraught friendship. A secret that can never be told.

On a brisk fall night in a New York apartment, 35-year-old Billie West hears terrified screams. It’s her lifelong best friend Cassie Barnwell, one floor above, and she’s just realized her infant daughter has gone missing. Billie is shaken as she looks down into her own arms to see the baby, remembering—with a jolt of fear—that she is responsible for the kidnapping that has instantly shattered Cassie’s world.

So begins the story of Billie and Cassie’s friendship–both in recent weeks, and since they met twenty-three years ago, in their small Hudson Valley hometown the summer before seventh grade. Once fiercely bonded by their secrets, including a traumatic, unspeakable incident in high school, Cassie and Billie have drifted apart in adulthood, no longer the inseparable pair they used to be. Cassie is married to a wealthy man, has recently become a mother, and is building a following as a fashion and lifestyle influencer. She is desperate to leave her past behind–including Billie, who is single and childless, and no longer fits into her world. Hurt and rejected by Cassie’s new priorities, Billie will do anything to restore their friendship, even as she hides the truth about what really happened the night the baby was taken.

Told in alternating perspectives in Lovering’s signature suspenseful style, Bye Baby confronts the myriad ways friendships change and evolve over time, the lingering echoes of childhood trauma, and the impact of women’s choices on their lifelong relationships.

How did Bye, Baby end?

Click here for book spoilers for Bye, Baby
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Bye Baby, I suggest you turn back now.

The Reveal:

In the end, Bye Baby wasn’t all that suspenseful. I kept waiting for a twist, but none ever came. Yes, Billie had stolen the baby in a moment of anger and jealousy, and when she realized what she had done she returned her. Eventually her lies caught up to her when she wore Jane’s hat (the one she had used to disguise her from the security cameras) on a date with Alex. They ran into Jane on the date, and Jane recognized the hat. It came out in the conversation that Billie must have taken it the night she was supposed to feed the cat. Alex put two and two together. Then Billie confessed to Cassie. Cassie ended their friendship, but she was more relieved that her past wasn’t coming back to haunt her than angry.

The Ending:

Cassie’s secret was that she had killed Billie’s sexually abusive stepfather. She pushed him off Billie’s widow’s walk. Luckily he was drunk at the time so charges were never pressed. While the reader knew Billie had taken the baby, Cassie thought it was someone who knew about her past.

The Review: 

Similar to other novels by Lovering, Bye Baby is more of a friendship drama than a thriller, although the cover and description seem very thrillery. There’s some suspense to the drama, though, and I know by now not to expect thrillers from this author even though they seem to be marketed as such.

Despite the genre, I was hooked. This author has a particular skill for weaving the most toxic of friendships! It’s an interesting look at how friendships evolve over time, sometimes unevenly. I found both main characters to be rather unlikeable, but I was fascinated by their toxic interactions and certainly wanted to see how things would play out for Billie.

I did feel like the book was over halfway through. Usually books like this climax around the 80% mark, with some wrap-up and explanations and then it’s done. With this book, though, all the questions posed by the summary were answered by the 50% mark. The ending felt way too drawn out for me–I was expecting a final reveal, but nothing else came.

As a fun aside, I drove through Red Hook one weekend while I was partway through this book! I don’t live far from there, and drove by on the way to go hiking at Indian Head.

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