“A compelling mix of high wire tension and superb writing. Not Her Daughter will linger in the memory long after the final page has been turned.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
The story revolves around 5-year old Emma Grace Townsend, who is missing.
Taken by Sarah Walker – a successful entrepreneur, heart-broken from a recent nasty breakup, and abandoned by her own mother in childhood.
The moment Sarah sees Emma, she feels an instant connect, compounded by the fact that Emma’s mother, Amy, treats her atrociously, which Sarah has witnessed, by chance, on more than one occasion. Emma was never wanted and Amy is downright horrible to the girl, being verbally and physically abusive as well.
Missing children stories are common; wherein you expect the children to be abused and tortured. But the author here has managed to turn the idea a complete 360o to come up with an angle that’s quite novel. What if a child is taken from the family just to keep them safe, and avoid any danger? What if their life at home is so full of stress and abuse that being taken away by a stranger, with the promise of a good life, is the best option for them?
As Sarah and Emma break into a run, avoiding the nationwide hunt, they form a deep bond – of trust, companionship and warmth. Is It only a matter of time before they are caught?
Told alternately between Amy and Sarah as Before, During, After and Now, the book has a nice pace and tautness to it. Tension builds gradually and you may find yourself rooting for a kidnapper, and not the grieving parents, for a change – because is Amy really grieving? The difference in personalities between Sarah and Amy is so stark you can’t help praying that Emma remains in the confines of Sarah’s safety.
This was an emotionally powerful and though-provoking read, though the premise perhaps doesn’t “seem right”. You will definitely question Sarah’s action. Is she really only trying to protect Emma or perhaps fill some void in her life?
This book raises the pertinent question of what it means to be a mother; and to what extent can someone go to keep a child safe.
My rating: 4.5/5
Added 13th September 2018