From the opening lines of In Her Wake, the reader is confronted with the sadness and loss Bella Campbell Bradford has suffered in the aftermath of her mother’s death. Elaine Campbell had been a loving mother, but there was always something amiss in their lives. Elaine’s fearfulness, her unwillingness to leave the house, and the overprotectiveness that turned Bella’s childhood into a prison are only the tip of the iceberg.
Her father Henry was kind, but also distant, a trait Bella chalked up to his being a doctor.
Bella’s husband David is overly controlling, and with his tendency to always take care of everything, from what to eat and where to work, she realizes that she must take some time away alone, to sort through her thoughts. Especially after a tragedy that occurs within hours of her mother’s funeral. A letter from Henry charts her course.
She goes to the Cornish coast for answers. There she finds more than she bargained for. What happened in France twenty-five years ago, and how does a cottage in Bristol figure into the lives of the Campbell family? Who is Bella, and what other secrets and lies have made her into the person she is today?
Finding the truth beneath the lies will lead her down some frightening pathways, but in the end, she will discover more than she had ever hoped for. Knowing that she can sort through her past on her own helps her decide how to deal with David.
Along the way, the reader gets to enjoy the local characters, like Dawn Tremayne and her mum, Alice. The author showed the reader the village of St. Ives in all its colorful quirkiness, which helped ease the shocking truths that seemed to come out of nowhere…and just kept unfolding. 4.5 stars.
In the opening pages of The Girl You Lost, we meet a character who has been victimized, and as we learn more about her, we are immediately curious as to her connection to a group of unknown narrators whose alternate passages draw us into the sick and nefarious world of a group of young men.
Meanwhile, Simone and Matt Porter are still grieving the loss of their infant daughter eighteen years before. Little Helena, age six months, was grabbed from her grandmother in the park.
Suddenly we are watching as a young woman named Grace Rhodes approaches Simone with a story that seems unbelievable…and incredible, at best. She is the young woman victimized in the beginning and she has a story to tell. Can she be believed? Could Grace be the missing child Helena? But just as Simone is pondering the story, Grace disappears. Did she give up when she realized that her lies had been uncovered? Or is there more going on?
Intense and thrilling, we are left wondering who the young men are and what, if anything, they have done to Grace and others.
In the end, while I was not completely surprised by the connections between the characters, the behavior of one in particular stunned me.
Set in London, the story kept me intrigued, even as I had a sick feeling of dread about what would ultimately be revealed.
On an ordinary day in May 1980, six-year-old Alex Selky walks two short blocks toward his school in a comfortable and gentrified Boston neighborhood…and then disappears, without a trace.
His mother, Susan Selky, a university professor, awaits his return home from school that afternoon, only to discover when she calls another mother that he never arrived there at all.
A massive search begins, and the subsequent weeks are consumed with media coverage, a police presence, TV shows seeking to interview the parents….and hope. Hope continues despite the lack of results, and one after another lead is pursued. And then gradually, the police disappear, the posters that are hanging on store fronts are pulled down, and everyone goes on with their lives. Except Susan. Despite all evidence to the contrary, she still believes in the possibility of her son’s safe return. Even her estranged husband Graham no longer believes.
Throughout the pages of this captivating book, the reader admires the faith that sustains Susan, even as it leaves Graham. Friends urge Susan to accept that her son is never coming home. Her persistent hope strains her relationships with friends and family, until finally she is completely alone in her quest for her son.
At this point, one might ask: wouldn’t it be easier to give up? Why does Susan persist in the face of odds that are against her? Is the bond between her and her child so strong that she would feel his permanent loss if he were truly gone?
Themes of hope, faith, and unconditional love emanate from the pages of Still Missing and carry the reader through to the emotional and suspenseful conclusion. Five stars.