Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.
Emma 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. Kidnapper.
Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. 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 whether 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 Emma is gone without a trace.
As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?
My Thoughts: As I plunged into the moral dilemmas of Not Her Daughter, I found myself rooting for Sarah, who had chosen to take Emma away from an abusive home. I could feel the anxiety of the child, afraid of her mother, and I also felt for Sarah, who knew that traditional protective services in a broken system might not be able to keep the child safe.
But then again, should someone take a child to protect her, with no legal authority to do so? If caring people decided to take matters into their own hands, there would be no safeguards at all for a child. Who could say that the child is truly protected just because a kindly stranger offers her own brand of safekeeping? What, if any, opportunity might there be for the abusive parent, in this case, Amy Townsend, to mend her ways and try again?
The story was written in such a way that, with Sarah’s first person voice, we can feel how much she wants to take care of the child she has seen abused on several occasions. And in other sections of the book, we are offered a look into Amy’s perspective and slowly come to acknowledge that the bonds between Amy and Emma are broken…possibly irretrievably. What is the best course of action for Emma…and also for Amy and Sarah?
I enjoyed following Sarah as she kept ahead of those searching for the child, giving up her own home and career to protect Emma. Sometimes it felt like a grand adventure. But I didn’t feel she had made the best choices. In the end, there seemed to be a satisfactory solution, but it was unrealistic, in my opinion. 4 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.