THE TIGER IN THE HOUSE by Jacqueline Sheehan

THE TIGER IN THE HOUSE is a compelling, emotional read that dives into two separate worlds: schizophrenia and the opioid crisis. It’s part family drama, part thriller, and 100% page-turner. Plus there’s a subtle romantic thread and a dog you wish you could meet in real life. Add the characters, and this novel has everything.

The story opens with a half-dressed five-year-old girl, covered in blood, walking along a roadside. She knows only her first name, Hayley, and the blood links her to a nearby drug cartel execution. But why was she at the crime scene? Does she have family, and if so, where are they?

Hayley’s future is turned over to Delia Lamont in Maine’s child services. A skilled bread and pasta maker, Delia’s about to walk away from the heartbreak and relentless stress of her job to open a bakery with her carefree younger sister and gifted baker, Juniper. The sisters are extremely close—the backstory reveals why—and they both have intriguing sensory gifts. This was my favorite part of the novel. I loved that Delia’s heightened sense of smell helps her understand people; Juniper has a similar gift with taste.

Before Delia can embrace her new life, she must unravel the mystery surrounding Hayley. Pursuing the instinct that tells her this child does not belong in the foster system, Delia joins forces with a local detective. Somewhere, out there, is a worried mother. But the clock is ticking, and the case, which opens up a past Delia would rather bury, becomes increasingly dangerous.

Tragedy and trauma are woven throughout the novel, but it’s full of heart and hope; a story about looking beyond everything you’ve lost to discover what you really want from life. On a personal note, I enjoyed the sympathetic portrayal of schizophrenia, an illness that’s impacted my family.

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