A Book Spy Review: ‘It’s One of Us’ by J.T. Ellison


New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison is back with another twisting physiological thriller that’ll test how fast readers can turn the page as they race to see how this one ends.

Olivia Bender wants a child more than anything. Though she has a successful career designing home interiors, the vast majority of Olivia’s life revolves around her fertility treatments. She and her husband, Park, have tried everything to conceive a child. They’ve done numerous rounds of IVF, but even when that seems to work, she loses the baby, and the process starts all over again. Feeling she’s destined to be a mother, though, Olivia never quits—enduring all the heartache and pain in hopes of one day having a baby to raise and love.

The story takes its first turn when Olivia and Park’s quiet life is suddenly interrupted by the police knocking on their door. To their shock, they’re told that the officer is there as part of a murder investigation. DNA taken from a crime scene links back to Park. However, that doesn’t directly implicate him. Rather, it’s revealed that the DNA suggests Park’s son may be the killer the police are after. Initially, both Olivia and Park assume it’s all one big misunderstanding; they don’t have kids. They’re trying, but so far, they haven’t had any luck. Together, they’re adamant that something must be wrong, the DNA cannot possibly link back to Park. But then Park remembers that many years back, he donated sperm, a memory that opens a whole can of worms, more heartache and pain, and even more questions.

As it turns out, the sperm bank Park donated to kept less than stellar records, making it nearly impossible to trace back and see how many children he may have unknowingly fathered. The very news that Park has children causes a fight to erupt between the married couple, as it exacerbates all the feelings—ranging from inadequacy to anger—that Olivia carries from not being able to conceive herself. The idea that nothing she tries fulfills her dream of being a mother, while, meanwhile, her husband may have accidentally fathered numerous children, is nearly more than she can handle. The only thing worse is knowing that a child with Park’s DNA may be out there killing people. Before long, their quest for answers kicks off a twisting chan in events as both Park and Olivia search for the truth . . . even though they both have dark secrets to protect.

As always, J.T. Ellison delivers another one-sit reading experience. Once you start this book, there’s really no stopping. Not only is it well written, but the pacing is blazing fast, and the twists are perfectly timed to strike when readers are least expecting them. That said, readers should know going into this one that Ellison does delve into topics that, quite frankly, may be hard for some people to read about. Infertility is a tough subject to write about, and even harder to read about if you or someone you love has suffered from it. Where Ellison deserves a lot of credit, though, is that she never shies away from that in her writing. She could have taken the easy way out, glossed over the infertility side of the story, and made this a generic mystery wrapped around the mysterious DNA angle. Instead, she charges into these tough topics with heart, honesty, and a rawness that you can appreciate and admire. Is it still a difficult topic for some? Absolutely, but Ellison does justice to all the feelings one might expect from being in Olivia’s shoes. As for the story, the concept itself is intriguing, even just on the surface. What would you do if you learned that not only do you have a child you didn’t know about, but that the child might also have grown up to be a killer who is now on the loose? That’s an impossible scenario for anyone to process, but when you throw in all the unexpected secrets and surprises that Ellison has packed in along the way, that impossible scenario turns into an unputdownable reading experience that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go until the very end.

Falling somewhere between Harlan Coben’s Home and Jeff Abbott’s Blame, It’s One of Us blends family drama with a twisting plot that hooks you from the very start and never lets go . . . J.T. Ellison knows how to play with readers’ expectations, and just when you think you have this one figured out, she throws one curve after another—setting up a brilliant ending that’ll leave her readers stunned and begging for more.

Book Details

Author: J.T. Ellison
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0778311767
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Real Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.

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