This is a novel of intrigue and suspense that will tug at the hearts of any parent – a child goes missing.
Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.
But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.
As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.
This narrative will resonate with many contemporary parents and in particular puts a spotlight on the pressures women deal with on a day to day basis – of running a household, raising children, working whilst trying to maintain a relationship with a spouse and the ever looming responsibility of caring for the elderly – be they family or members of the community. Add to these pressures the disappearance of a child and you have a pressure cooker whistling away about to explode – and explode it does.
The plot focusses on a before she went missing and after she went missing theme. The love that the mother has for her children is declared loud and strong but the kids don’t seem to realise it…teenagers…a difficult stage. The signs that the mother did not see are poignant and so real – as parents we try to balance between allowing our children responsibility and to develop independence yet are tasked with keeping them safe whilst wearing a blind fold called trust.
Guilt is a major theme in this complex narrative.
The early pacing is a little slow for my taste and I was rather irritated that the mother, the protagonist in this narrative was constantly, and I mean constantly, berating herself or being berated by her family for her decision to work or for spending any time on her own interests. The father does not get dealt with in the same manner yet his is often away from the home, working long hours, on call, at conferences etc. he cannot change his routine for anything…even when his daughter disappears, he is too important. Very irritating – especially when you consider the author herself is a GP, a writer, a mother of 5 and a spouse and yet she I feel she weighs her protagonist with a bucket full of guilt she doesn’t deserve – a guilt for having a life and helping to provide for her family. Rant over.
A great debut with a wicked twist in the end you will not see coming.