REVIEW: WHERE I LOST HER, BY T. GREENWOOD

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It was a lovely June in Vermont when Jake and Tess visited their friends, Devin and Effie. But Tess was feeling anything but peaceful or content, having just made a discovery about her husband. Flirtatious text messages on his phone from a woman.

She was also still lost and sad from her experiences in Guatemala a few years back, a time that would seriously puncture the hope she once felt: in herself and in her marriage.

That night in Vermont, she drank too much and went to the store for more wine. Which is why, perhaps, that what happened next would turn her into what some saw as an unreliable reporter. Someone who found a little girl in the road, who then ran away. A little girl the police and searchers could not find, even after a day or two. Someone the lead detective would publicly label a liar and false reporter.

Where I Lost Her was a story that gripped me from the beginning, keeping me glued to the pages, hoping against hope for some kind of satisfactory resolution.

Alternate narratives swept back and forth, revealing the events in Guatemala and lending a reality to Tess’s feelings about her experiences, both then and in the present. Would the missing girl be found? Did she even exist? And what could Tess do to regain some kind of credibility in the community, a place where she grew up?

I felt a connection to Tess right away, and disliked her husband. The two of them seemed on completely different wavelengths, which can make for feelings of loneliness and isolation. For both of them.

The setting sounded beautiful, but with darkness around every corner, and as the truth about events finally came to light, I once again felt a sense of contentment for the characters. 5 stars.

***A copy of the e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

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REVIEW: WHAT SHE KNEW, BY GILLY MACMILLAN

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When a child goes missing, the world suddenly becomes a dangerous place. For the family of the missing child, for the police whose job it is to find the child, and for the public, who take it upon themselves to share, wrongly, their own thoughts and feelings, which include pointing fingers of blame.

Benedict Finch was eight years old that day when he and his mum, Rachel Jenner, took a walk in the woods with their dog. In a moment’s weakness, Rachel let Ben go ahead toward the swing, feeling he should be allowed a little confidence in his own abilities. It would be a moment that haunted the rest of her life.

His disappearance would grab the attention of the police, the media, and Rachel’s life would never be the same again.

What She Knew is narrated by Rachel, news pieces, blog entries, and DI Jim Clemo, one of the detectives in the Bristol community.

As the story unfolds, we come to know several characters surrounding the mother, Rachel, and the father, John and his wife Katrina. Rachel and John’s divorce had been a defining event in the lives of Rachel and Ben, perhaps setting her up for the state of mind she was in on that walk in the woods.

Nicki, Rachel’s sister, along with her friend Laura, surrounded her during the early days. There was also a constant media presence and a lot of hostility toward Rachel, as the blame was often aimed in her direction.

I had several suspicions about various characters, and even as I thought for sure that one of those least likely to be guilty was indeed the perpetrator, I began to realize, just at the same time that others did, who the guilty party was. I liked not knowing for sure, as it kept me turning those pages.

There is no happy ending to a story like this, as no matter what eventually happens, there will be pain and loss and damage. A realistic tale that I will not ever forget. I enjoyed the structure, with a before and after glimpse of the characters. 5 stars.

PERSISTENT HOPE GUIDES A MOTHER — A REVIEW

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.