NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

3.5 out of 5 stars -- "And guilt and blame are two very powerful weapons. Weapons of intimate destruction."

Imagine every parent's worst nightmare -- your 2-year old daughter is kidnapped from a hotel room while you're out enjoying dinner with friends at a luxury resort in Mexico celebrating your wedding anniversary! That's the tragedy that Carol Shipley and her husband, Hunter, faced 15 years ago. No trace of Samantha was ever found. Everyone constantly reminds Carole that she should never have left her children alone in a hotel room. She knows that, but blames Hunter for talking her into it.

Flash forward to the ringing of a telephone and a voice on the other end -- it's a girl claiming to be that missing daughter. Carole so wants this to be true, an answer to her hopes and prayers. Carole and her daughter, Michelle, travel to Calgary but the girl doesn't show. But then arrives on their doorstep in San Diego. Is this really Samantha?

This was a very fast read but populated with several characters that I found so annoying that it was distracting. The mother was a mess, not that it would be unusual since she lost her daughter, but the rest of the family -- Michelle, mother Mary, brother Steve, and Hunter -- were also not exactly the kind of people I'd be able to tolerate as friends even if given lots of latitude for their personal anguish. The only thing that saved this book was that I wanted to get to the end to see if the girl was indeed Samantha and to find out what happened in the hotel. I hoped there would be a satisfactory conclusion. Most of it I had guess and anyone who reads this type of book would as well.

Overall, I enjoyed the quick read in a single sitting. I wish I had developed more empathy for Carole, but I never connected with her. I like strong female protagonists vs those who do a lot of angsting and sobbing. The relationship between Carole and everyone else in her family was completely dysfunctional and they all need more than a few sessions with a therapist to fix all that is wrong. I don't even want to think about the pain a parent would experience in this sort of situation, so I gave her some leeway with her reactions and behavior, but some of her choices defied credibility and a reader will need to suspend a bit of disbelief about some of what happened.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the e-book ARC to review.

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