Beneath the Surface

Fiction - Womens
268 Pages
Reviewed on 11/08/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Beneath the Surface by Heather Nadine Lenz is freakishly surreal. Natalia awakes feeling trapped within herself. Everything is off, foggy, things are not right. Actually, almost nothing makes sense. Questions invade her mind. Why does she feel so terrible? Who are the children in her home; they call her mommy, but she does not know them. Where are her own children? Why is Evan there instead James, her husband? Evan tells her that she is married to him, not James. Confusion sets in, followed by extreme frustration. Natalia’s world is spinning out of control. This must be some kind of sick joke. Why is everyone lying to her? She goes about her days robotically; she tries to accept this new reality. Natalia simply can’t remember. Weariness envelops her, sleep swallows her up, she drifts away into a world just Beneath the Surface.

Heather Nadine Lenz writes a puzzling tale in Beneath the Surface. The book is mesmerizing! From the very beginning Lenz ensnares the reader with her narrative hook. As a reader, you feel like you are on the edge, trying to make sense of the protagonist's bizarre set of circumstances. The supporting cast of characters encompasses the life of the heroine, molding her, and at times smothering her as she desperately tries to make sense of her life. Is she insane or simply overworked? All of us have endured forgetfulness, especially when life is pressuring us, times when sleep deprivation leaves us in a fog of exhaustion. However, Lenz paints an alternative life for her main character, and keeps you wondering what is real and what is not. Just about the time you think you have gotten a clear understanding, the plot takes a twist, a dive, and plummets into yet another reality. Lenz keeps the reader mystified and guessing up to the climatic end. With every word written, Beneath the Surface pulls at your heart and challenges your soul. It takes you into the world of delusion and reality, and keeps you wondering which one is the truth.

Trudi LoPreto

Beneath the Surface by Heather Lenz is a seamlessly written story of Natalia who is suffering from a total blank of her previous life and exhibits a perfect blend of confusion and wonder as did I, the reader. The story begins with Natalia waking up one morning and being in a life she cannot remember; married to Evan with three children, Nick, Nathan and Annabelle. She is confused because she believes that her children are named Ben, Allen and Anna and she is married to James. Natalia, not wanting to admit she is having a real problem, gets dressed and goes to work. At work she is on auto-pilot but also does not remember anything of this part of her life. Natalia owns a party planning company with her best friends Mary and Michael working as her trusted assistants. As the story continues, her family insists that she is in fact married to Evan and Nick, Nathan and Annabelle are her loving children. Natalia strongly believes that she is really married to James and Evan is married to her best friend Eva. The story takes some twists and turns and to tell you more would ruin everything, so I strongly recommend reading this to untangle the mess and find out the truth.

Beneath the Surface is a well written story that will keep you guessing until the very end. I really enjoyed the writing style of Heather Nadine Lenz and cannot believe this was her first book as it is written with great taste, imagination and love. I am hoping that there is another book coming soon and that it will continue the story of Natalia, Evan, James and Eva. Beneath the Surface is a great read on a cold winter night snuggled in a warm bed. I highly recommend Beneath the Surface as it is a five star winner.

Lit Amri

Natalia’s husband is James, and her children are Anna, Allan, and Ben. However, she wakes up to find herself with a different husband and children who insist that they are her family. She knows that she quit her job three years ago, and yet now she owns an event management business. Her neighbors, friends and even her own mother are adamant that this is her life, and the one acting strange and worrisome is her. But why do her memories firmly suggest otherwise?

Beneath the Surface by Heather Nadine Lenz is an intriguing story set in the beautiful city of Zurich, Switzerland, which gives us some wonderful descriptions of the country. We follow lead character Natalia’s quest to find the answers while trying to live her alternate life as best as she can. The element of mystery is deftly developed through the plot. Readers will find themselves getting more curious page after page, wondering which reality is truly Natalia’s. As the mystery unravels, links appear between characters and strands of the narrative in a satisfying way.

The plot is appropriately paced and the prose is engaging. The story deeply assesses our innermost impulses to achieve a more desirable life, and that itself is a thought provoking notion to ponder. I found that Natalia’s reflections on her life and marriage to Evan compared to her life and marriage to James in her memories are relatable and will resonate with many readers. Simply put, Beneath the Surface is a solid debut from Lenz and I enjoyed it.

Carol Coetzee

Natalia wakes up one morning and her life is turned upside down. Evan, a dear friend of hers, is in her home with three children, Annabelle, Nick and Nathan. The children call her Mom and Evan says he is her husband and they have been married for eleven years. Natalia is convinced that she is married to James and they have three children, Anna, Allan and Ben, and that Evan is married to her best friend, Eva. She does not know what is going on. It is apparent that everyone thinks she is insane; Evan, her children, her neighbors, her parents. They all tell her that Evan is her husband and the children are hers. She is apparently a successful event planner with her own company, and Evan spends his days looking after the children. However, her memories are different. She remembers being married to James and that she stopped working to be with the children. Her subconscious memory leads her to Elegant Events, where she finds her friends Mary and Mike, who both call her boss. She tries her best to fit into this new life but is constantly bombarded with different memories. Travel along as we try to find the truth. Is she losing her mind? Beneath the Surface is a scintillating read by Heather Nadine Lenz.

Beneath the Surface is an extremely tense and exciting novel. It had me hooked from the beginning and held me hostage throughout the book. I was at times convinced there was a secret plot afoot, other times that Natalia was losing her mind, and yet sometimes that she was ill. The story is extremely well told, and it gives you a wonderful insight into the confusion Natalia experiences on this journey. You feel it with her, holding your breath trying to figure it out, and sometimes want to scream in frustration. You want to hold her, help her, but definitely drag her off to a doctor! The desire to know what is going on will keep you reading non-stop. Is she crazy and in need of medical attention? Has she bumped her head and developed a concussion? Perhaps a brain tumor? Why does she have these memories of a life that obviously is not hers? Why are the memories so real to her, whilst so obviously not true. A must-read if you are the curious type! In fact even if you aren't, this is one mystery you must solve!

Marta Tandori

Things aren’t always as they seem – or are they? Natalia, the main protagonist in Heather Nadine Lenz’s disturbing tale, Beneath the Surface, is thrown precariously off kilter when she wakes up one morning to find that her good friend is now her husband – and she’s mother to three precocious young children she doesn’t recognize. Until now, Natalia has led a seemingly charmed life amid a backdrop of lakefront serenity in Switzerland, but not recognizing her children or remembering when she married the man sharing her bed has her rattled to the core. Matters don’t get any better when Natalia falls into a dead faint in front of her neighbor and her babbling about her children prompts her worried parents to catch the first plane out to Switzerland.

Lenz’s prose is meticulously crafted such that the reader, like the author’s main protagonist, is kept off kilter throughout the story. Natalia’s episodes of confusion are understated but, like a series of strategically placed dominoes, the façade of her carefully constructed life begins to collapse with almost a domino effect, making Natalia question what is real and what isn’t. Most evocative to me, as a mother, was Natalia’s insistence on knowing where her children were. This is one of the clues that more or less hangs in the air, prompting the reader to delve beneath the façade the author has constructed for us. Certainly, Beneath the Surface is an entertaining read but as much as it is entertaining, it also underscores the fact that our subconscious mind is influential in ways that we cannot even begin to fathom.