The childless weekend getaway after nearly a decade of marriage and two kids is a scenario that brings up either wishful thinking or pleasant memories. Kaira Rouda’s Best Day Ever traces 24 hours of what promises to be the perfect romantic weekend, but instead goes wildly awry.
The husband, Paul Strom, narrates Rouda's story, which is unusual in women-focused thrillers. After few pages, readers will realize that Paul is the ultimate unreliable narrator. We soon learn that he's both narcissistic and delusional, and Mia, Paul’s wife, readily gains our sympathy.
Paul and Mia's idyllic ride to the lake house quickly disintegrates as Mia asserts independence over little things (calling the babysitter) or larger ones (taking a part time job). As Mia’s actions tax Paul’s patience, he struggles to appear pleasant, nonthreatening and maintain his thin veneer of control, which greatly increases the novel's creepy factor.
Not to mention, Paul keeps alluding to a special surprise he has for Mia that weekend. His repeated thoughts about the surprise have readers wondering about his plan and fearing for Mia’s safety.
When Paul meets Mia’s male friend, one she’s managed to make despite Paul’s nearly incessant oversight, he assumes the two are having an affair. Mia and her friend have something even more intricate than an affair, as revealed in the intense ending. Rouda's thrill-ride of a novel highlights the fact that can you never know what goes on behind the facade of a seemingly flawless marriage.