Friday, 17 August 2018

Not Her Daughter

Author: Rea Frey
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
First Published: August 21, 2018
First Line: "I grip her hand."

Book Description from GoodReads
Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.
Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?
Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.
As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.
Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.
My Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: In her debut novel, Not Her Daughter, Rea Frey has written a compelling and often emotional tale about loss, the struggles of parenting and love for a child.
I took this book on holiday recently to Boston and when we weren't out exploring that great city, I was glued to these pages. The story jumps between the points of view of Amy (the unhappy mom) and Sarah (the child abductor) and includes scenes before, during and after the abduction to give readers better insight to the characters' inner thoughts and motivations. It's hard to like Amy and while I didn't jump on the Amy bandwagon, Frey enabled me to understand how Amy got to that very low point. 

Sarah was a little hit and miss for me and that stems from some of her choices that were hard to believe. At times she seemed immature for a successful businesswoman in her mid-30's and a few of her choices, especially those that put herself and Emma in danger, were hard to swallow. Readers may also have to suspend belief with some aspects of the plot (especially in this digital/public camera/cell phone age) and how smoothly things went for Sarah. That said, I quite enjoyed this read and found the plot moved at a good pace. 

I have to give Frey credit, she doesn't shy away from broaching some difficult subjects including the issue of the public's responsibility when they see child abuse and the darker side of parenting some people experience - the struggles, extreme stress and loss of self. Life is not all play dates, park outings and cute photo ops for many parents and Frey brings many of those issues to light. 
While I would have welcomed more resolution in the ending, overall this was an impressive debut that will keep readers on the edge of their seats and emotionally connected to the plight of this five-year-old girl. If you've got a good mother, this book will make you want to give her a call and be oh so thankful for what you have.
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