"She's Not There" by Joy Fielding

Fifteen years ago, Caroline Shipley was on vacation in Mexico with her family and friends, there to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary.  Fifteen years ago on that vacation, her life was changed forever.

On the last night of their trip, Caroline and her husband Hunter left their children, five-year-old Michelle and two-year-old Samantha, asleep in the hotel room while they had dinner with their friends a few floors below. Checking in on the children every half hour, they told themselves everything would be okay. Until they returned to the room at the end of the night to find Samantha missing from her crib.

Fifteen years later Caroline is divorced and alone, dreading the yearly calls from reporters that force her to relive the kidnapping. But when the phone rings this year, it’s a voice she wasn’t sure she would ever hear. It’s a seventeen-year-old girl who thinks that she may be her long-lost daughter. While Caroline has been disappointed by calls like this before something is telling her that what this girl says could be true. But as the story of what happened all those years before begins to unravel, she may not want to find out that the answers she has been looking for are dangerously close to home.

She’s Not There, by Joy Fielding, is a ripped from the headlines psychological thriller that will have readers hanging on with every turn of the page.  

This is the first book I have read by Fielding and I am very glad that I started with this one. It is an absolute winner for me and it now has me wanting to read everything else she has written. I enjoy books that are based on real life news stories and this book is similar to the disappearance of Madeline McCann. I think we can all remember our shock and horror when the little girl went missing while on vacation and I’m sure we all had moments where we questioned the thoughts and motives of the parents. This is an emotional read, especially if you are a parent, and this book really gets into the raw emotions felt by the parents as the days and years go on. This is something we don’t get from the media when it comes to the real-life case.

I was pleased at how well-balanced the book is between the life of the family after the disappearance and the actual mystery of what happened to their daughter. This isn’t a straight forward whodunit, it’s also a story about how a family holds it together in the aftermath of a tragedy. That is the strength of this book, that it isn’t just about any kidnapping, but one which could have been prevented if the parents themselves had taken different actions. I can’t imagine what it is like to live with those feelings but I think the book gets pretty close to what that would feel like.

I did not want to put this book down and I pretty much didn’t. I read a little bit of the book one evening and I could tell that it was one I wouldn’t want to stop reading once I really got into it so I made sure I set aside a good amount of the next day to just read until I finished. I certainly neglected a lot of the housework and errands to get to the end of this book but I certainly don’t regret it! This was a 5 star read for me.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.

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