Review: I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad

Title: I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Genre: Historical (80s), Mystery, Thriller
Length: 276 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


One secret.

Eight cryptic words.

Lifetimes of ruin.

Wayland Maynard is just eight years old when he sees his father kill himself, finds a note that reads I am not who you think I am, and is left reeling with grief and shock. Who was his father if not the loving man Wayland knew? Terrified, Wayland keeps the note a secret, but his reasons for being afraid are just beginning.

Eight years later, Wayland makes a shocking discovery and becomes certain the note is the key to unlocking a past his mother and others in his town want to keep buried.

With the help of two friends, Wayland searches for the truth. Together they uncover strange messages scribbled in his father’s old books, a sinister history behind the town’s most powerful family, and a bizarre tragedy possibly linked to Wayland’s birth. Each revelation raises more questions and deepens Wayland’s suspicions of everyone around him. Soon, he’ll regret he ever found the note, trusted his friends, or believed in such a thing as the truth.

I Am Not Who You Think I Am is an ingenious, addictive, and shattering tale of grief, obsession, and fate as eight words lead to lifetimes of ruin.


I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad is a bleak yet engrossing psychological thriller.

In 1976, eight-year-old Wayland Maynard witnesses his father’s suicide. He discovers a cryptic note that he conceals from everyone, including his mother. Fast-forward to 1984 and the Maynard family is barely hanging on. Wayland’s younger sister Lydia is involved in a toxic relationship with a much older boyfriend. They barely see their mother who works double shifts that barely provide for the family. After Wayland remembers an odd detail about his father’s death, he decides to try to understand the meaning of the suicide note.  Why did his father leave a note that reads, “I am not who you think I am”? Equally confusing and painful, why did his mother remove every trace of his father?

Wayland’s friendship with Clay is already strained when he tells him about his decision to investigate his father’s death. Angered by Clay’s response, Wayland begins his search on his own. Almost immediately, he runs in to his classmate and crush Juliette Lancaum. He accepts her surprising offer to help him but their partnership is rocky because of her unreliability. Wayland is undeterred as he sets out to prove that his theory about what happened to his father is true. He has a short fuse and he is quick to lash out at the people who care about him. His mother’s questions unleash unexpected frustration and rage that he finds difficult to control. As he edges closer to finding the truth, Wayland spirals into a dark frame of mind that results in shocking decisions that will forever haunt him.

I Am Not Who You Think I Am is a gripping mystery that moves at a brisk pace. Wayland is a sympathetic character who turns out to be his own worst enemy. He slowly but steadily unravels his family’s secrets but is he prepared for what he is about to unearth? With diabolical twists and jaw-dropping turns, Eric Rickstad brings this atmospheric thriller to a poignant conclusion.

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