The structure of this book reminds me a lot of Jodi Picoult’s writing, in that each chapter is a perspective and the stories slowly get closer and closer until they are all telling the same one. I call it puzzle storying but I’m sure that actual literary people have a term for the form. You pick up a piece here and a piece there, and at the end all the characters are looking at the complete work and we’re all finally in the same place. Different books do this for different reasons, but I especially enjoy it when it’s like a detective story that you already know the answers to. The suspense is in watching the characters figure it out.
Part one covers the events leading up to, including, and the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping. In some cases we briefly reach far into the future, but for the most part we see the toll it takes on the family that loses the baby, and the thought process that Lucy goes through as she slowly decided to keep her (Natalie/Mia). You know that the act was wrong, but you feel bad for everyone involved. This is hands down the strongest part of the book and you will be hooked right from the beginning. Ross does an excellent job grabbing your attention and making you hold your breath.
I call this section “discovery and escape.” This was the place in the book where everything felt a little too convenient. Everyone seemed to be in the same place at the right times, just curious enough to discover things that had otherwise been hidden all this time, and just resourceful enough to accomplish what needed to happen. If you believe Lucy wasn’t thinking about escaping to China when she booked that trip to that conference, then I have some bridges to sell you and they cost as much as I owe in student loans.
I call this part of the book “Mia goes to live with crazy hippie family in California and does a lot of yoga.” It’s hilarious to me how she goes and does all of these things with her birth mom: yoga, psychic readings, camping, eating vegan. Going from living in Manhattan to this should be a nightmare for her, but we are led through her experience in the most dry way possible, like she just did it no questions asked, no suffering involved. This is the weakest part of the book and I could have done without most of the kale salads.
This is a book that I am glad I read, but that I wouldn’t have missed if I hadn’t read it. The ending was disappointing. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the ending, because I feel like they left out the entire point of the book, which is reconciling the love you have for a person you thought was your mom with the fact that she committed a crime to be your mom in the first place.
I wish that instead of taking so much time to show Marilyn (the birth mom) and Mia struggling to reconnect, that Helen Klein Ross had instead shown us how Mia deals with Lucy, the legal and emotional aftermath of that and how they come to be a larger family unit. The last part of this book felt unnecessary and uninteresting for that reason.
Give it a go, but if you’re looking for a great, suspenseful kidnapping story there are probably other books out there for you.