Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Child

Title:  The Child
Author:  Fiona Barton
Publication Information:  Berkley. 2017. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1101990481 / 978-1101990483

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "My computer is winking at me knowingly when I sit down at my desk."

Favorite Quote:  "People say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. They say that when you been through something terrible ... But it doesn't. It breaks your bones, leaving everything splintered and held together with grubby bandages and yellowing sticky tape. Creaking along the fault lines, Fragile and exhausting to hold together. Sometimes  you wish it had killed you."

A gruesome discovery opens this story. On a construction site, a body is discovered. a skeleton of an infant lies buried in the foundations of a house being torn down. Who is the building site baby? Who would commit such an act?

Like Fiona Barton's first book The Widow, this book tells its story through different perspectives.

Angela is a distraught mother. Years ago, her newborn daughter Alice disappeared from her hospital room. Angela's life has ranged from being accused of harming her daughter to following up on false leads on Alice's whereabouts. The underpinning of a her life is a never ending grief and the void of not knowing. Is Alice dead? Is she living a life Angela knows nothing about? What happened to Alice?

Jude is a mother to now-adult Emma. She has been and continues to be self-centered to the point that her life seems to have no room for Emma. A big marking point of their relationship is the fact that at one point, Jude threw Emma out of the house. Tough love and understandable or something else and completely selfish?

Emma is a young woman with secrets and fears of her own. She is now married with a spouse who clearly cares for her. Yet, the point is made that something is amiss in that relationship because she married a father figure. Her relationship with her mother is fraught with pain and regret; yet, she is drawn back to her. Emma has love, caring, and stability; yet, her life is overridden by anxiety. The reason why slowly emerges through the book.

Of the three, Angela is the most sympathetic character - a mother who loses a child. Her highs and lows of hope and despair bring the reader along with her feelings. Jude is unlikable one because of her self-centered, boyfriend focused outlook. Emma is the enigma for her story is the unknown that slowly comes to light. Be warned, some of the backstories delve into rather sordid circumstances.

Surrounding these main characters are supporting characters that repeat from The Widow. Detective Sparkes is on the investigation, both of Alice's disappearance and now of this mystery building site baby. Kate is a reporter, who catches the glimmer of a story when she hears of the found skeleton. Gradually following her leads, she is pulled further and further into the story of these women. Kate becomes the thread through which the stories of Angela, Jude, and Emma are stitched together. Kate provides the commentary, evaluates the facts, and draws the conclusions for the reader.

Alternating chapters depict the perspective of each woman with their charged emotions and anxieties. Those feelings permeate the book and create a tension that keeps me reading. Mind you, this structure and the emotions make this book a psychological mystery much more so than a thriller. Action is not the heart of this book; thoughts and feelings are. Given the number of characters and the relationships, the ending is not really a surprise, but getting there is an entertaining reading journey.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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