Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.
A solid and readable novel about a child, Carmel, who goes missing. Not a mystery, since the book is told in alternating short chapters, one from Beth, the mother's POV and one from the child's. The reader's interest is held by wondering how both will cope and what Carmel's ultimate fate will be. And perhaps that's where the tension lagged someone for me. I was far more intrigued by the Carmel's story than the mother's.
In Beth's chapters I kept waiting for her to be haunted by the images of what might, indeed, have befallen Carmel. Murder? Abuse? Slavery? But, while Beth is understandably gutted and obsessed with finding her daughter, she dwells more on her own possible complicity and what's actually happening to Carmel doesn't enter her mind. That felt off to me, unless the author is implying she's a narcissist.
There are come gaps in the narrative. For one thing, the child ends up on another continent and yet we are never told how she gets there, although she was clearly drugged. No one on a plane or boat, train or customs office thought to question this odd 'family' of little means and obviously-mixed parts? How did they afford fake papers? Birth certificate? Passport? Was she smuggled in a container? It felt as though the author simply couldn't figure out a way to do it, but wanted the religious sect that kidnapped Carmel to be based in the US. Very odd.
Then too, Carmel never felt in any serious danger. A tough and unpleasant and sad and awful spot? Sure. But not enough for thriller material, and not psychologically deep enough to stand up against similar books by other writers such as Ian McEwan's CHILD IN TIME, for example.
But, it's a quick afternoon read and this is the season for such things.