A vanished child, a family in turmoil, and a fateful phone call that brings the torments of the past into the harrowing present . . . the New York Times bestselling author of Someone Is Watching weaves these spellbinding elements into a gripping novel of psychological suspense—a must-read for fans of Laura Lippman and Mary Higgins Clark.
“I think my real name is Samantha. I think I’m your daughter.”
Caroline Shipley’s heart nearly stops when she hears those words from the voice on the other end of the phone. Instantly, she’s thrust fifteen years into the past, to a posh resort in Baja, Mexico—and the fateful night her world collapsed.
The trip is supposed to be a celebration. Caroline’s husband, Hunter, convinces her to leave their two young daughters, Michelle and Samantha, alone in their hotel suite while the couple enjoys an anniversary dinner in the restaurant downstairs. But returning afterward, Caroline and Hunter make a horrifying discovery: Two-year-old Samantha has vanished without a trace.
What follows are days, weeks, and years of anguish for Caroline. She’s tormented by media attention that has branded her a cold, incompetent mother, while she struggles to save her marriage. Caroline also has to deal with the demands of her needy elder daughter, Michelle, who is driven to cope in dangerous ways. Through it all, Caroline desperately clings to the hope that Samantha will someday be found—only to be stung again and again by cruel reality.
Plunged back into the still-raw heartbreak of her daughter’s disappearance, and the suspicions and inconsistencies surrounding a case long gone cold, Caroline doesn’t know whom or what to believe. The only thing she can be sure of is that someone is fiercely determined to hide the truth of what happened to Samantha.
Praise for Joy Fielding’s Someone Is Watching
“Someone Is Watching gripped me from the first to the very last page. Bailey Carpenter is a heroine who’s both victim and warrior woman, a fascinating sleuth who will linger with you long after you’ve finished this thrilling read.”—Tess Gerritsen
“Fielding pens a spiraling tale of paranoia and suspense, as sultry as a Miami night.”—Jenny Milchman
“An edge-of-your-seat read . . . With Fielding’s patented blend of complex characters and escalating suspense, she is in top form here.”—Karen Robards
“Engrossing . . . The characters pulsate with life.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A gripping, fast-paced psychological thriller . . . Fielding’s story of one woman’s search for justice, understanding, and internal peace is nothing short of arresting.”—Booklist (starred review)
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
Joy Fielding is the New York Times bestselling author of Someone Is Watching, Now You See Her, Still Life, Mad River Road, See Jane Run, and other acclaimed novels. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
It was barely eight a.m. and the phone was already ringing. Caroline could make out the distinctive three-ring chime that signaled a long-distance call even with the bathroom door closed and the shower running. She chose to ignore it, deciding it was probably a telemarketer or the press. Either alternative was odious, but given a choice between the two, Caroline would have opted for the telemarketer. Telemarketers were only after your money. The press wanted your blood.
Even after all this time.
Fifteen years tomorrow.
She buried her head under the shower’s hot spray, the lather of her shampoo oozing across her closed eyes and down her cheeks. That couldn’t be right. How could fifteen years of seemingly endless days and sleepless nights have passed by so quickly? At the very least, she would have thought public curiosity in her would have waned by now. But if anything, such interest had actually increased with each successive anniversary. Reporters had been calling for weeks, some from as far away as Australia and Japan: What was her life like now? Were there any new leads? Any new men? Another suicide, perhaps? Did she still harbor hopes of seeing her daughter again? Did the police still consider her a suspect in the child’s disappearance?
Except Samantha would no longer be a child. Barely two when she’d vanished without a trace from her crib at an upscale Mexican resort while, according to the press, her parents cavorted with friends at a nearby restaurant, her daughter would be seventeen now.
Assuming she was still alive.
So, in answer to some of their questions: there were no new leads; she would never give up hope; she no longer gave a hoot what the police thought about her; and her life would be a lot better if the vultures of the press would leave her the hell alone.
Her head bowed, water dripping from her nose and chin, Caroline reached up to turn off the shower taps, satisfied that the phone’s intrusive ringing had finally stopped. She understood it was just a temporary respite. Whoever had called would call again. They always did.
Stepping onto the heated white-and-gray marble floor of her bathroom, she wrapped herself in her white terry-cloth bathrobe and swiped at the layer of steam that coated the large mirror above the double sink with the palm of her hand. A forty-six-year-old woman with wet brown hair and tired green eyes stared back at her, a far cry from the “beautiful” and “reserved” young woman “with haunted eyes” that the newspapers had described at the time of Samantha’s disappearance, somehow managing to make the words “beautiful” and “reserved” ugly and accusatory. Around the ten-year mark, “beautiful” became “striking” and “reserved” morphed into “remote.” And last year, a reporter had demoted her further, referring to her as “a still attractive middle-aged woman.” Damning her with faint praise, but damning her nonetheless.
Whatever. She was used to it.
Caroline rubbed her scalp vigorously with a thick white towel, watching her new haircut fall limply around her chin. The hairdresser had promised the bob would result in a more youthful appearance, but he hadn’t reckoned on the stubborn fineness of Caroline’s hair, which refused to do anything other than just lie there. Caroline took a deep breath, deciding that tomorrow’s press clippings would probably describe her as “the once attractive mother of missing child Samantha Shipley.”
Did it even matter what she looked like? Would she be any less guilty—of neglect, of bad parenting, of murder—in the court of public opinion because she was less attractive than she’d been at the time of her daughter’s disappearance? Then, she’d been excoriated in the press for everything from the cut of her cheekbones to the shortness of her skirts, from the shine of her shoulder-length hair to the sheen of her lipstick. Even the sincerity of her tears had been called into question, one tabloid commenting that at one press conference, her mascara had remained “curiously undisturbed.”
Her husband had received only a tiny fraction of the vitriol that had come Caroline’s way. As handsome as Hunter was, there was a blandness about his good looks that made him less of a target. While Caroline’s natural shyness had the unfortunate tendency to come across as aloof, Hunter’s more outgoing personality had made him seem both accessible and open. He was portrayed as a father “barely holding himself together” while “clinging tight to his older daughter, Michelle, a cherub-cheeked child of five,” his wife standing “ramrod straight beside them, separate and apart.”
No mention of the fact that it had been at Hunter’s insistence that they went out that night, even after the babysitter they’d hired failed to show. No mention of the fact that he’d left Mexico to return to his law practice in San Diego barely a week after Samantha’s disappearance. No mention of the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” the final betrayal that had doomed their marriage once and for all.
Except that had been her fault, too.
“Everything, my fault,” Caroline said to her reflection, withdrawing her hair dryer from the drawer underneath the sink and pointing it at her head like a gun. She flicked the “on” switch, shooting a blast of hot air directly into her ear.
The ringing started almost immediately. It took a second for Caroline to realize it was the phone. One long ring, followed by two shorter ones, indicating another long-distance call. “Go away,” she shouted toward her bedroom. Then, “Oh, hell.” She turned off the hair dryer and marched into the bedroom, grabbing the phone from the nightstand beside her king-size bed, careful not to so much as glance at the morning newspaper lying atop the crumpled sheets. “Hello.”
Silence, followed by a busy signal.
“Great.” She returned the phone to its charger, her eyes pulled inexorably toward the newspaper’s front page. There, next to the yearly rehashing of every awful fact and sordid innuendo that had been printed over the last fifteen years, the rewording of every salacious detail—“Adultery!” “Suicide!” “True Confessions!”—was a large photograph of two-year-old Samantha, smiling up at her from beside an artist’s sketch of what her daughter might look like today. Similar sketches had been plastered all over the Internet for the past two weeks. Caroline sank to the bed, her legs too weak to sustain her. The phone rang again and she lunged for it, picking it up before it could complete its first ring. “Please. Just leave me alone,” she said.
“I take it you’ve seen the morning paper,” the familiar voice said. The voice belonged to Peggy Banack, director of the Marigold Hospice, a twelve-bed facility for the terminally ill in the heart of San Diego. Peggy had been Caroline’s best friend for the last thirty years and her only friend for the last fifteen.
“Hard to miss.” Again Caroline struggled not to look at the front page.
“Asshole writes the same thing every year. Are you all right?”
Caroline shrugged. “I guess. Where are you?”
Of course, Caroline thought. Where else would Peggy be at eight o’clock on a Monday morning?
“Listen, I hate to bother you with this,” Peggy said, “especially now . . .”
“What is it?”
“I was just wondering . . . Has Michelle left yet?”
“Michelle’s at her father’s. She’s been staying there a lot since the baby . . .” Caroline took a deep breath to keep from gagging. “Was she supposed to work this morning?”
“She’s probably on her way.”
Caroline nodded, punching in the numbers for Michelle’s cell as soon as she said goodbye to Peggy. Surely even someone as headstrong and self-destructive as her daughter wouldn’t be foolish enough to skip out on her court-mandated community service.
“Hi, it’s Micki,” her daughter’s voice announced in tones so breathy that Caroline barely recognized her. “Leave a message.”
Not even a “please,” Caroline thought, bristling at the nickname “Micki” and wondering if that was the reason her daughter had taken to using it. “Michelle,” she said pointedly, “Peggy just called. Apparently you’re late for your shift. Where are you?” She hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then called Hunter’s landline, determined not to be negative. Maybe her daughter’s alarm clock had failed to go off. Maybe her bus was running late. Maybe she was, right this minute, walking through the doors of the hospice.
Or maybe she’s sleeping off another late night of partying, intruded the uninvited voice of reality. Maybe she’d had another few too many before getting behind the wheel of her car, ignoring both her recent arrest for driving under the influence and the suspension of her license. Maybe the police had pulled her over, effectively scuttling the deal her father had worked out with the assistant district attorney, a deal that allowed her to avoid jail time in exchange for several hundred hours of community service. “Damn it, Michelle. Can you really be that irresponsible?” Caroline realized only as she spoke that someone was already on the other end of the line.
“Caroline?” her ex-husband asked.
“Hunter,” Caroline said in return, his name teetering uncomfortably on her tongue. “How are you?”
“Have you seen the morning paper?”
“Not an easy time of year,” he said, always good at stating the obvious.
“No.” Although you seem to be managing rather well, she thought. A young wife, a two-year-old son, a new baby girl to replace the one he’d lost. “Is Michelle there?”
“I believe she’s helping Diana with the baby.”
As if on cue, an infant’s frantic wails raced toward the receiver. Caroline closed her eyes, trying not to picture this latest addition to Hunter’s family. “Peggy called. Michelle’s supposed to be at the hospice.”
“Really? I thought she was going in this afternoon. Hold on a minute. Micki,” Hunter called loudly. “It’s probably just a misunderstanding.”
“Probably,” Caroline repeated without conviction.
“What did you think of the sketch?” Hunter surprised her by asking.
Caroline felt her breath freeze in her lungs, amazed that her former husband could manage to sound so matter-of-fact, as if he was referring to an abstract work of art and not a picture of their missing child. “I—It’s—” she stammered, her eyes darting between the photograph and the drawing. “They’ve given her your jaw.”
Hunter made a sound halfway between a laugh and a sigh. “That’s funny. Diana said the same thing.”
Oh, God, Caroline thought.
“What’s up?” Caroline heard Michelle ask her father.
“It’s your mother,” Hunter said, his voice retreating as he handed Michelle the phone. “Apparently you’re supposed to be at the hospice.”
“I’m going in this afternoon,” Michelle told her mother, the breathy whisper of her voice mail nowhere in evidence.
“You can’t just go in whenever you feel like it,” Caroline said.
“Really? That’s not how it works?”
“Michelle . . .”
“Relax, Mother. I switched shifts with another girl.”
“Well, she hasn’t shown up.”
“She will. Don’t worry. Anything else?”
“You should probably call Peggy, let her know . . .”
“Thanks. I’ll do that.”
“Michelle . . .”
“I was thinking, maybe we could go out for dinner tonight . . .”
“Can’t. Have plans with my friend Emma.”
“Emma?” Caroline repeated, trying to disguise her disappointment. “Have I met her?”
“Only half a dozen times.”
“Really? I don’t remember . . .”
“That’s because you never remember any of my friends.”
“That’s not true.”
“Sure it is. Anyway, gotta go. Talk to you later.”
The line went dead in Caroline’s hand. She dropped the phone to the bed, watching it disappear amid the rumpled white sheets. “Damn it.” Was Michelle right? Her daughter had always had a lot of friends, although none of them seemed to stick around for very long, making it hard to keep track. Something else to feel guilty about.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I would have enjoyed the book more if it hadn't been a play by play of real life events when little Maddie McCann went missing from the family's resort room while her parents were in the restaurant across the pool with 7 friends! The author even goes as far as having her fictional characters check on the kids evert 30 minutes exactly as the McCanns did! This is not a plot spoiler because there is no plot! It's straight from Google, Wikipedia and National Enquirer! I don't know how the author wrote this in good conscience without a dedication to the McCann family. Their tragedy in Portugal in May 2003 should not be the outline for a bestseller! (Maddie is still missing)!
Great book. Keeps you guessing until the end. Highly recommend.
Shame on this author for writing a book that reminds one about little Maddie McCann. To make $$ this way is disgusting. I will never read anything by this author again!!!!!!!
This is just bad to profit off a real life story but call it fiction is a slap in the face to poor missing maddies family who im sure still suffer thier l/sd
Children are precious. A parent’s love for their children is unparalleled, so when a child goes missing it destroys the lives of those parents who loved and cherished their offspring so dearly, and often captures the undivided attention of a whole country, or even the world. Today is the 15th anniversary of Caroline Shipley's descent into hell. Her then 2-year-old daughter was abducted while her parents were in the dining hall of a resort. That night, she lost more than her daughter .... she lost her marriage, her career, was accused by the police of murdering her daughter. Samantha has never been found .. leaving Caroline in a perpetual limbo. And then a telephone call ... a young female voice says ... I think I might be your missing daughter. This well-written psychological mystery puts me in mind of Madeline McCann, a 3-year-old who went missing from a resort in 2007. She has never been found ... no ransom note was every received. And as is written in this book ... the parents were suspected of harming or murdering their own child. This book is told mainly by Caroline... in the present day ...and from 15 years ago. When she receives the phone call, her first thought is ... it's a scam, someone looking for money, or just being mean. But is it? Or is it really her daughter? The characters are stand-up, credible. I loved how the family interacted... mom, daughter, grandmother, brother, sister in law, ex-husband and his new family. Not every family grieves the same .. and in this instance, there's plenty of blame to spread around. Many thanks to the author / Bonnier Zaffre / Netgalley for the digital copy. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Enjoyed the read. Didn't like the jumping around from 15,10,5, to present time.
Caroline and Hunter Shipley have two young daughters and are off to celebrate their 10 year anniversary in Rosarito. On arriving Caroline discovers that her brother Steve and his wife Becky, her friend Peggy and her husband and some casual friends Jerrod and Rain Bolton are all there to welcome them and to celebrate with them. Initially disappointed Caroline decides to make the best of the week even though she has been looking forward to a quiet week with her husband. From the opening of the book it is made very clear that Caroline has favourites. Her older daughter Michelle is seen as being a demanding 5 year old, prone to tantrums and just a general difficult child. The youngest child, Samantha, is the perfect, angelic 2 year old and very definitely mommy's favourite. On the night of their actual wedding anniversary the babysitter has been cancelled but their room overlooks the restaurant and Hunter talks Caroline in to going for the meal anyway. They agree to check the girls every 30 minutes and all seems to be going well, until they return to their room shortly after 10pm and Caroline makes the anguished discovery that Samantha is missing. If the story sounds vaguely familiar to you, don't be surprised. It is heavily influenced by the real life events surrounding the disappearance of Madeline McCann in 2007. It is actually an almost exact duplication of the main events with just a few minor tweaks to the location and people involved - the Tapas 7 are now 8 for instance. For this reason the early sections of the story became quite laboured reading as it felt like you already knew all this. The touches that kept me reading where the studies of how the press intrusion and the court of public opinion had castigated this mother and contributed to the break up of her marriage and her estrangement with her oldest daughter. Fortunately, the second half of the book dealing with the aftermath of a young girl coming forward saying that she thinks she is Samantha. This leads to a denouement that is unexpected and strangely satisfying and certainly makes me glad I stuck with the early portion of the book. I did enjoy the book but it was very definitely a tale of two halves for me and I could not get past the parallels with the McCanns. This generally spoilt the story for me and I have had to mark it down from a 4 to a 3 for this reason. completely subjective opinion but then aren't all reviews? I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS NOVEL FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
I loved this book! Caroline is a woman to whom the unthinkable happened fifteen years ago. Her 2 year old daughter Samantha was taken from her crib at a resort in Mexico while "her parents cavorted with friends". The press was not kind to her, citing everything from her clothes to her composure. Every five years the press dredges up the cold case on its anniversary. This year is different. Caroline receives a call from Lili in Canada who thinks she may be Samantha. Told in alternating chapters set in the present as she deals with Lili and the past as she dealt with the kidnapping and its effect on her marriage and her life the book presents a compelling heroine in Caroline as she struggles to be what everyone thinks she should be. I don't want to give any spoilers but the ending was unexpected to me. Read it. I think you will enjoy it.
"She's Not There" was a very enjoyable read that was to easy to follow and had a decent storyline which kept my attention from start to finish. Being a parent myself, you never stop worrying about your children and the thought of them going missing is just devastating. So I truly felt for Caroline when she discovered Samantha wasn't in her crib upon checking on her. I imagine she must have felt her heart had been torn out, I would - having lost my youngest son for only a couple minutes many years ago in a shop that feeling of dread is sickening. With the story having resemblances to the tragic Madeline McCann mystery, whereby the child goes missing whilst the parents are dining with friends on a holiday resort, you begin to imagine what it must have been like for the family following her disappearance and this book focuses on the remaining sister in the story and the subsequent years that follow. I have no comments or judgement to make on Caroline and Hunter's decision to leave the children sleeping while they went out and it was interesting to see how they coped with this after Samantha's disappearance. I did have a few issues with the characters right from the start, Samantha's sister Michelle was more than the average whinging kid and the Grandmother was quite infuriating in the way she treat Caroline. Hunter wasn't the doting Dad I'd have liked him to be, treasuring his beloved car's interior over allowing his kids a drink. As the years went by Michelle's attitude only got worse but one has to wonder how much that had to do with the events that unfolded when she was five and how emotionally scarred she was from her parents subsequent obsession with finding her sister and coping with their own emotional feelings. All in all a very good read with an ending I thought befitting and I would happily recommend "She's Not There" by Joy Fielding to readers of all ages. 4 stars.
All her books are great
I was really looking forward to Joy Fielding's She's Not There. I love suspense novels, but this novel had no suspense nor a real mystery. Caroline Shipley and her husband, Hunter went on a vacation to Rosarito, Mexico fifteen years previously for their anniversary. Caroline would not leave the kids with her mother or brother, so they brought five-year-old, Michelle, and two-year-old, Samantha with them. On the last night the babysitter failed to show up. The hotel said that someone had canceled the sitter. Since they were going to be eating just outside (they could see the window from the table), they went to dinner (Hunter insisted because he had a surprise for Caroline). They took turns checking on the sleeping girls. When they go back after dinner, Samantha is gone. Who took her and why? Fifteen years later Caroline gets a call from a young girl stating she might be Samantha. Could this be her long lost daughter? We get to see how this kidnapping affected the family and if this young woman is really Samantha. Will Caroline finally get the truth? I found She's Not There to be a slow novel with no suspense. It was so easy to figure out who took Samantha and why. We are subjected to a lot of Caroline thinking (and over thinking) and disagreements between Michelle and Caroline. Michelle was a difficult child before the kidnapping and she has not improved over the last fifteen years (I got very tired of their arguments). I did not like any of the characters in the book. Caroline plays the blame game and has issues controlling her temper. The writing is okay (satisfactory). I kept hoping that there would be a twist at the end. I give She's Not There 3 out of 5 stars (which mean it was okay). I received a complimentary copy of She's Not There from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.
Couldn't put it down....
First of all, I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House for an ARC of Joy Fielding’s newest psychological suspense thriller, She’s Not There, in exchange for an honest review. I am very happy that I was given the opportunity to read this book, or otherwise it might have escaped me. Joy Fielding’s She’s Not There is one fantastic suspense ride. This book is very well written, and Fielding constantly continues to dish out what is not expected. Something would happen in the book and I would think okay well this will happen next. Well to say the least, I was almost always wrong. This novel does not seem to follow the normal formulas. She’s Not There is quite unlike any other psychological suspense thriller that I have ever read. This is a compliment to Ms. Fielding. Fifteen years ago, Caroline Shipley was happily married with two young daughters, Michelle and Samantha. Caroline was coming up on her tenth wedding anniversary. Her husband, Hunter, booked a trip to Mexico just a few hours away from their home - San Diego. The getaway was at an exclusive getaway. They arrived at the hotel only to be greeted by Caroline’s brother, Steve, and his wife,Becky, along with two other couples, much to Caroline’s dismay. The trip is going good however, until the last evening - Caroline’s and Hunter’s actual anniversary. First, the baby sitter does not show up. The restaurant is just downstairs from their room, and after much persuading Hunter convinces Caroline to leave the kids alone asleep. And then,Caroline’s whole world changes for good after her daughter, Samantha is kidnapped. This was a very intense scene. It was very well plotted and very well written. Ms. Fielding’s characterization and storyline development are superb. And, the reader is always guessing. The reader is left wondering if it is an inside job -was it the police or the hotel staff or one of the other couples? Where is the motive, though? It is amazing how differently the kidnapping affect Caroline’s life compared to Hunter’s life. It almost drives the reader crazy trying to figure this book out. I can just see Ms. Fielding sitting back laughing every time she knows that someone is reading She’s Not There. Fifteen years pass …. Caroline gets a call. It is a girl named Lila. But, she thinks her real name is Samantha. She wants to know, too … And, from this point, the story kicks into overdrive. I do not want to provide any spoilers. It would just not be fair to future readers. The book utilizes the familiar time-lapse trick of writing one chapter in the present and then writing one chapter in the past. And, Michelle’s behavior is more than adequately portrayed. Okay, we get it. These are the only two complaints that I have about the book, and to be fair, the first is not really a complaint and does nothing to distract from the story and probably enhances the story. I love She’s Not There other than that. This book would appeal to a very wide reading audience, both male and female. Moreover, Fielding makes the reader to think about the “what ifs.” What if this would have been a real kidnapping? What if I would have known the family? What if it would have been my family? When a writer accomplishes these kind of things it just amaze me. Yes, I would have no problems recommending this book to other readers. I give Ms. Fielding’s She’s Not There a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars. Cambo
I have read all of Joy Fielding's book and this one rates up with one of the best. This book hooked me right away and I could not stop reading until I finished. This story was definitely a suspensful book with some crime and mystery thrown in. Fifteen years ago, Carole Shipley was happily married with two young daughters. On her 10th anniversary, her husband wanted to take her to Mexico to celebrate. She did not want to leave her daughters with her mother, so the whole family set off. If she had known what was waiting for her, she would have made a very different decision. While celebrating with her husband and friends, her daughters were left alone in their room sleeping. Even though they checked up on them every half hour, the unthinkable happened, Samantha disappears. Of course the family becomes suspected, and Carole more so than her husband for her calm, cool demeanour. For 15 years Carole suffers not knowing where her daughter might be or what happened to her. Her relationship with her older daughter Michelle has suffered as a consequence of the kidnapping. Her marriage falls apart and her husband remarries and begins a new family. She tries to return to teaching but is let go from job after job. She finally has a position she likes when she gets a phone call. “I think my real name is Samantha. I think I’m your daughter.” The story is told from Carole's point of view and goes back and forth from the past to the present. This style does not always work and can be confusing, but it flowed nicely in this book. We see what Carol went through over the years and how the media treated the incident and her personally. She is continually scrutinized and villainized by the me. Her husband seems to be let off relatively easy by the media but she is constantly under attack. This book makes you think about the many cases in the media about family abductions etc. and how easily we can be manipulated by reporters. I found this book extremely emotional and thought provoking. I had to flip back a few times to see if I could figure things out. I wasn't even close in my guess to what happened. The solution did not become apparent until right before it was revealed, which to me makes for a great book. I highly recommend this great read by Joy Fielding to anyone who enjoys suspenseful reads. I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Another new to me author, that I am glad I discovered. Joy Fielding crafted a true “ripped from the headlines” tale of a kidnapped child, a marriage on the rocks and a family that may not survive the loss in She’s Not There. Caroline and Hunter are celebrating their ten year wedding anniversary in Mexico with family, friends and their two small girls. When the babysitter cancels, Hunter convinces Caroline to leave the girls asleep in the room and check on them every half an hour. When Caroline checks at the end of the night, the two-year-old Samantha is no longer in her crib. What follows is a media firestorm putting Caroline in the spotlight as an unfit mother. After fifteen tortured years, a phone call from a wary seventeen-year-old may change everything. Fielding crafted a masterful tale of intrigue and family drama. The writing was crisp and conveyed emotion easily. Speaking of emotion, She’s Not There had a palpable undercurrent of loss and grief throughout that was very powerful. The world created was real and I could picture the varied environments well. The pacing was good, the chapters in the past were quick, and even if the current dragged a bit, as a whole it worked. The characters were engaging and you felt with them. A few, notably the oldest daughter, were a bit overdone, but as with the pacing it worked in the total atmosphere. She’s Not There is a great read that I finished in one sitting. I stayed up late to finish, as I needed to know the truth. I was not at all disappointed by the ending and enjoyed the ride Joy Fielding took me on. I am again happy I found a new to me author to enjoy and my reading list is going to have some new additions with Fielding’s other books. Original review at 125Pages com I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
4.5 Stars. Of course, when I read the description of this book, I immediately thought of the little girl Madeline McCann. That was such a horrible news story. Anyways, to the book. This showed what the disappearance of a little girl can do to a family. And believe me, this was not a family anymore. There was no love, just humans doing what they had to do to get through the day to day life. The first part of the book was actually pretty sad, which, of course, you would expect it to be. Then the one day, Carole gets a call. Could it be? I'm not going to spoil anything for you. However, I can tell you that the book was very well written and the characters were very believable. I'm not going to say what I think should have happened to the father of the daughter who was lost, I will leave those thoughts to myself. As for the ending of the book, it was definitely a jaw dropper. I would definitely recommend this book. While the fighting between the oldest daughter and the mother could get a little on your nerves (it's to be expected) I could not put it down. I wanted, needed, had to know did they get Samantha back. Thanks to Random House for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. This one will rip your heart out, literally.
She's Not There is the story of what a missing child can do to a person. 15 years ago during a wedding anniversary trip to Mexico, Caroline and Hunter's two year old daughter, Samantha is taking from their motel room while they are downstairs having a celebratory dinner but their five year old daughter Michelle wasn't taken. What follows is a marriage broken in half and a daughter trying to find her own path but is continuously reminded of what happened that night until a phone call that will change everything. Caroline receives a phone call from a young girl named Lili in Canada saying she might be her daughter and wants Caroline to fly up to meet and do a dna test but once Michelle gets wind of what is happening, she reminds her of all the other leads that lead to false hope. When Lili doesn't show up, Caroline goes home disappointed until Lili calls her again and sends the entire family on this journey of who this girl really is. The moment that Michelle finally remembers what happened that night in the room, a family will be reunited and torn apart all in a single minute. I have never read any of Joy Fielding's books before but have only heard great things from them so when I saw this book on NetGalley, I knew I just had to read it and it didn't disappointed me at all. I loved the whole going back and forth from 15 years to present day and it all flowed together in a way that it wasn't so hard to keep up with. This book will draw you in and keep you guessing on who did it and why but I never saw how the way it ended coming, I kinda figured it was someone else but because of that, I'm a Joy Fielding fan now and can't wait to see what is to come!! Thank You to Joy Fielding for writing such a excellent book and for making me a new fan of yours!! I received this book from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
I have read an awful lot of books about missing children lately. She's Not There was one of the most emotional and also most gripping ones out of those. You can't help but think of the case of Madeline McCann when you read this. A little girl disappears from her parents' hotel room while the parents are having dinner with friends in a restaurant close by. 15 years later, the mother receives a call from a girl who thinks she may be the missing daughter. Told from the mother's point of view, the story goes flawlessly back and forth between the present and the time of the disappearance. The characters were exceptionally well drawn: the second daughter who ends up being a total mess and is in desperate need of attention. The sleazebag husband. The grandmother, what a nasty piece of work! And then the mother who has been under continuous attack from the media, which has affected her personal and professional life. I kept guessing right till the end and never worked out who was behind the kidnapping though there were small clues along the way. There were plenty of twists making this hard to put down. It came close to a 5-star read, but the ending reminded me of The Waltons and was just a little too sickly sweet for me. 4.5 stars. Many thanks to Ballantine Books for my copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.