Previously published as Burnt Paper Sky, this debut novel tells the story of a Mother's desperate search for her lost son.
After allowing her 8yr old son, Ben, to run on ahead during their walk, Rachel Jenner looses her son in the woods. A frantic search ensues but all the Police can find are Ben's discarded clothes and trainers. After a press conference goes wrong, Rachel finds herself at the centre of a media frenzy painting her as a 'Bad Mother' and suggesting her involvement in Ben's disappearance is deeper than she claims. Even the Police begin to doubt her story. With nowhere to turn and no one to trust Rachel begins to unravel as she realises the greatest threat may not be from strangers but the people she loves the most.
I loved the way this psychological thriller is written. Rachel's character is so well developed you really feel emotion for her and start to worry about what is going to happen to her. We only meet Ben very briefly at the beginning of the book but the picture of a 8yr old boy, struggling to understand his parents divorce is painted so well through Rachel's thoughts and actions. But of course all is not what it appears. This shift in perception from Rachel's initial thoughts on how Ben is dealing with the breakdown of his parent's relationship to acceptance that she was projecting her own emotions onto him is so subtly crafted it is brilliant. I also liked the supporting story from the Police's side which is told retrospectively through notes from a psychologist session. It gave a hefty dose of gravitas and expectation to the storyline - you know all is not going to smell of roses when someone is in therapy at the end.
The subject matter is also hugely emotive and I found myself thinking about the book at various points during the day. I haven't had this since I read Behind Closed Doors so clearly it had a strong effect on me. I found myself looking at my own behaviour and realising I make the some of same dubious judgement calls as Rachel, giving my 6yr old daughter a level of freedom which has the slim potential to lead to something disastrous. But the book also brings up the flipside, how you can't suffocate a child and you need to give them the freedom to make mistakes themselves and learn from them. Highlighting the fine balance we struggle to find but are ultimately as parents and adults we are responsible for finding.
And the ending. I didn't guess it until the end so that was good but I wasn't 100% happy with it either. I would of liked a few more clues to make me suspect the character more - but then I probably would me moaning that it was too obvious so clearly I can't be pleased!
Overall 4/5 - a great psychological thriller (and an absolute bargain on Kindle at just 99p!)
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.