Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on August 21, 2018 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, suspense, women’s fiction
Format & Length: e-book, 368
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Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.
Emma Townsend 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. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.
Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and 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 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 she’s gone without a trace.
As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.
Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.
Not Her Daughter is Rea Frey’s debut novel, and a fairly solid one, at that.
“My mother was the personality in the family, and there was no room for anybody else.”
It is quite clear from the start that this is the story of a young girl who is kidnapped. But it is also so much more than that. The majority of the book is told through the point of view of two women: Amy (the mother) and Sarah (the kidnapper) from before, during, and after to build a thorough picture of who they are and why they act the way they do. And the characterization is what really stood out here, along with a wonderful exploration of mother-daughter relationships and their many forms and facets.
The plot itself is fairly straightforward, and the blurb tells you everything you need to know. It did take a while to really gain momentum but hit its stride about a quarter of the way in, after which I had a hard time putting the book down. Some aspects veered into the unbelievable, but by then I was so invested in the characters I didn’t mind much. Well written and gripping, this managed to make me both laugh and cry, finishing on a satisfying note of having read something that was both enjoyable and emotional.
In the end, I thought Not Her Daughter was a great debut and look forward to seeing what Frey will do next. If you like suspenseful women’s fiction and can suspend disbelief for the sake of a good story, definitely check this one out.