We Are All the Same in the Dark

We Are All the Same in the Dark


It's been a decade since the town's sweetheart Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind.

Since her disappearance, Tru's brother, Wyatt, has lived as an outcast, desperate to know what happened to his sister.

So when Wyatt finds a lost girl, he believes she is a sign.

But for new cop, Odette Tucker, this girl's appearance reopens old wounds.

Determined to solve both cases, Odette fights to save a lost girl in the present and in doing so digs up a shocking truth about that fateful night in the past . . .

Our Review

We Are All the Same in The Dark by Julia Heaberlin was a breath-taking masterpiece. I finished it half an hour ago and I still have a feeling of dread deep in my stomach. The night before a fourteen-hour shift at work I was up past 1AM wondering if I really needed sleep or if I could carry on reading.

I have read and loved other books by this author, but We Are All the Same in the Dark is on another level. There is some seriously high-quality writing and it is dramatic without compromising the reader’s relationship with the characters.

The multiple point of view form lends itself very well to this book and I felt it helped me associate with all of the characters much more.

It’s been a decade since Trumanell Brandon disappeared but the people in the small town in Texas where she lives haven’t forgotten her.

Most of them think her brother Wyatt killed her and he has been an outsider ever since her disappearance, but he is just as desperate for answers as everyone else. When he finds a lost young girl he believes it is a sign.

For new cop Odette the young girl’s appearance opens old wounds and in trying to protect her she discovers shocking surprises from the past.

We Are All the Same in the Dark is creepy and mesmerising from its opening lines:

“It takes eight to ten hours to hand-dig a grave, more if you was doing it in the dark, five to six if you have a helper. It aint like the movies.”

This is from a true crime documentary on Trumanell’s death.

Discerning readers will realise that there is something slightly off about Wyatt’s account in the first part of the book.

“She has a bad, bad mystery to her. I can feel it deep in the hollow of my spook bone, the one my dad broke when I was a kid. My arm is never wrong.”

It is immediately clear to the reader that the girl’s appearance is going to stir something up.

“A mystery girl spread still, off the highway, her head sparkling like some kind of desert angel with her wings clipped. She is twelve, maybe thirteen. Ten. Hell, I can’t tell. Girls these days look, fifteen when they’re eleven to men like me.

She’s lying barefoot on the baked ground about three feet behind a barbed wire fence, trucks blasting by hot and heavy on the other side. Lips as read as Snow White. A scarf with gold sequins is tied tight over one of her eye’s like she’s been bandaged by a princess. Or, maybe she’s the princess. Or maybe she’s just a normal girl without a lot of Band-Aid options.”

Wyatt’s part of the book gives us several glimpses into Trumanell’s tough early childhood experiences.

“Daddy hit us sometimes. But mostly he just played with our minds.”

Wyatt’s chapter gives us no insight into the events on the night of Trumanell’s disappearance.

“A decade later, nobody in town has the full picture of what happened out here at the Branson place. They just shake my cattle gate, seethe, and wonder.”

Odette’s chapters form the main bulk of the book. For me Odette was quite a difficult character to pin down. She clearly loves her job and has the potential to be a brilliant cop but her feelings for Wyatt and her close proximity to the events surrounding the disappearance of Trumanell sometimes cloud her judgement. The other issue is the shadowy history surrounding The Blue House and the fact that the night Trumanell went missing is the last time Odette had use of both her legs. That night she was involved in an accident meaning one of her legs had to be amputated.

Via Odette’s chapters we learn more about the month’s after Trumanell’s disappearance and the campaign against Wyatt.

“They hunted for nineteen-year-old Trumanell with shovels, backhoes and metal detectors. They smashed windows with rifle butts, shredded crime scene tape, slaughtered wheat, dug holes until rats and snakes slithered homeless across a field turned into an apocalyptic, deeply pocked moon.”

Odette moved away from the town for a while but almost five years ago convinced her husband Finn to move back for a trial period of five years. Her obsessive search for answers has almost destroyed her marriage, that and her complex relationship with Wyatt.

Odette is “more afraid of leaving things unfinished here than eventually going all in and finishing them.”

Her dad was closely involved in working the case and fiercely defended Wyatt’s innocence until he died. Odette believes he knew more about the case than was officially recorded and that provides some of the motivation behind her search for the truth.

“Daddy told me never to come back to this town. But he also made a silent will that he never put to paper, with Wyatt as my inheritance.”

Odette is very close to her partner Rusty but even he thinks she is crazy for defending Wyatt.

Odette checks in on Wyatt regularly because of his mental state. She has a close and clouded relationship with him, and their shared history means she can decode different things he says and does.

“Wyatt is massaging the same arm I grabbed, the one his father broke when he was ten by pushing him off a tractor. He says that arm has told him things since.

The rubbing means he’s bothered. There’s so much I know about Wyatt that I wish I didn’t. So many reasons I think he’s innocent even with a strange girl trembling on his couch and acid rolling in my gut.”

The girl on the couch only has one eye. How she lost her eye is just one of the mysteries surrounding her, a mystery Odette is determined to uncover even though the girl refuses to talk.

Odette decides to try and keep the girl’s appearance a secret and tries to convince her to tell other’s that she was the one who found her. She also attempts to explain to her about Wyatt and why he has conservations with someone who isn’t there.

“Wyatt’s sister is gone…tragically. His mind is still trying to wrap around the trauma. The grief. But I don’t think he is crazy. Let me put it this way. I lost a part of a leg. But I’m not handicapped. You lost an eye, and neither are you. We are whole human beings existing the best we can without a part. And that’s Wyatt. That’s everybody who is a survivor.”

The reader begins to believe that Wyatt is simply misunderstood but there is always pockets of doubt. Even Maggie, Odette’s cousin believes that Odette is putting herself in danger by continuing to associate with him.

“You are not responsible.” Maggie has lowered her tone. “For Trumanell or Wyatt. Or me or even that girl. This town should have fucking saved Trumanell when she was alive. Our father’s should have saved her. Everybody knew something was wrong out there, even me and I was a kid.This is about people bored with their lives, with something to prove, and an old boyfriend who always, always had a black river running in him. You owe him and this town, nothing. She pauses, “I’m scared for you. Please be careful.”

The final section of the book is from the point of view of Angel, the one-eyed girl. This is where we finally learn her story and a whole bunch of other secrets come out.

This is also where we learn that Angel is not quite as fragile as she seems to be.

“I hop out and toss the man a smile with lots of teeth when I pass by. Oklahoma girls are raised to do that like we are all pageant material, but we’re prepared to stab you in the gut.”

Both the female protagonists are particularly strong and that is just one of many things that contributed to me loving this book.

We Are All the Same in the Dark has earnt it’s place among my favourite books of all time.

I think the book hangover from We Are All the Same in the Dark will be severe.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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