REVIEW: NOT HER DAUGHTER, BY REA FREY

 

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.

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A SOCIAL WORKER’S HEART-WRENCHING TASK — A REVIEW

51BoO8VyK1LAlex Lake’s job as a social worker for the council puts her in the midst of disturbing and heart-wrenching situations. She must remove children from abusive/neglectful homes and find appropriate caregivers. But sometimes it is not that simple. When the evidence is not there, but the social worker knows something is dreadfully wrong, what can she do?

In Alex’s background, her own horrific issues reveal themselves throughout No Child of Mine, and as she struggles with those and with her increasing empathy and compassion for a three-year-old child named Ottilie, with whom she feels a special connection, it is very clear that this is not going to be a simple case to solve. But Alex persists. And just when she is moving toward that conclusion, something happens and Alex is reunited with the birth mother she hasn’t seen since age three.

On the brink of finally connecting the dots and collecting the evidence to rescue Ottilie, one horrific night full of tragedy takes Alex on a completely unexpected course of action.

The setting of this story is lovely, in one of the small villages in England. Living in a rectory that had belonged to her adoptive parents, Alex once had everything she thought she wanted. And now everything is about to change.

I could not put this book down. As lengthy as it was, I was able to read quickly, primarily because it was so riveting. And also because I could totally relate to the story. Even though my years of social work were in the States, the similarities are greater than the differences. Charged with protecting children is one of the most important and most thankless jobs….and when something goes wrong, everyone is ready to point fingers. This read earned five stars.

SERENDIPITOUS FRIDAYS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — JULY 27

Welcome to some serendipitous fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

My spotlight today is on The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, by Christine Nolfi.

Book Blurb:  A savage rape on hallowed ground. Secrets buried for decades by the town’s most influential family. Now Ourania D’Andre will learn the Great Oak’s secrets as construction begins at the Fagan mansion. She can’t afford to turn down a job that promises to stir up the long-buried guilt–and the passion–she shares with powerful Troy Fagan. She’s already juggling the most important job of her career with her new responsibilities as a foster mother for young Walt and Emma Korchek. And there’s a hard, older man on the construction crew with eyes void of emotion–cold and killing. The secrets of his brutal past will pose a grave threat to the children in her care. Will she find the courage to face him?

***

Beginning:  Staring at the tables wouldn’t put Ourania at one of them.

Nursing a cup of coffee, Troy Fagan wondered if she’d decided to decline the work.  Bow out with embarrassment, beg forgiveness—if Ourania didn’t come to her senses, he’d fire her.

How didn’t matter.  He’d find a way.

***

P. 56:   Marcy glared at him.  ” Listen, buster—you’re going to school.”  Narrowing her regard, she brought his thrashing to a halt.  “When we get back to Ourania’s place tonight, you’re helping me clean up the mess.  The floors, the walls—everything.”

***

Sound good?  I know I’m looking forward to this one.  And now I’m off to see yours!