Genre: domestic fiction
For two years, Megan, Peter, and their two older daughters, Alexis and Hannah, dream of nothing but being reunited with the family’s youngest child, Emma, who was kidnapped just before her third birthday. When Emma is miraculously found living with an elderly couple just miles from the family’s home, they are hopeful that her return will heal the wounds her disappearance created.
But Emma is vastly different from the sunny toddler they remember. She barely remembers her parents or her older sisters. She is quiet and withdrawn, and, worst of all, longs for the very people who kidnapped her.
Megan is consumed with bitterness, while Peter works later and later nights in the company of his gorgeous business partner. And in the middle of everything, Megan’s best friend has become suddenly distant and secretive.
Then a chance encounter in town leads to a secret that changes everything again for Emma. And Peter must decide between the happiness of his youngest daughter and the trust of his family.
My verdict: I am so glad I read the second book in the series! Ultimately this is about Emma adjusting to being back with her family without her grandpa Jack and her parents learning to forgive Jack and Dottie for taking their daughter and making sure she was loved and happy.
This book is also about learning to let go of the hurt in the past and move on and seize life with both hands. It’s also about learning how to heal the rift between Megan, her daughters and husband because of her obsession with finding Emma. It’s also about them learning that the three year old they knew is gone and in her place is this five year old who’s had a totally different upbringing than her siblings. I love that Steena wrote about Emma’s transition back with her biological family as we don’t often read about what happens once a child is found. It’s almost like grieving for the toddler they lost and helping Emma establish her role in the family which must be very confusing for her and the way she deals with her emotions is through drawing which forges a link between her and Jack.
As readers we see that through Megan’s own anxiety and at times jealousy at the closeness between Emma, Dottie and Jack. This book is a rollercoaster of emotions and with the author subtly telling the reader that you can’t ignore the last two years of Emma’s life and pretend it never happened because it did. For me this book was all about acknowledging the past, forgiveness and to try to move forward. Slowly we see the bond between a Emma and her family repaired particularly with her sister Hannah (Who felt guilty for not watching Emma the day she was abducted) and her parents through baking and swimming with Emma providing little insights into what life was like with Jack and Dottie. As Megan’s guard comes down and her anxiety lessens we see trying to repair the bond between her husband and her other daughters now that the strain and obsession with finding Emma has gone. Both books ultimately deal with the old saying that mother knows best and provides A small glimmer of hope even in fiction for other families who have children have gone missing that one day they might come home.
Personally my favourite part was when Jack and Emma would meet at the coffee shop with her dad peter for doughnuts because it made peer realise that Jack wasn’t a monster and was a victim of his own wife’s deceit and confusion as Megan and Peter were. I loved how they realised how much jack meant to Emma and vice versa and how they tried to include him in family life because he knew what it was like to lose a daughter. A beautiful ending to a lovey heart wrenching series.
Steena is hot on the heels of Jodi Picoult! I can’t wait to read the novella’s is regarding Dottys journals when Jack was away during the war and the second regarding Megans own fierce belief that her daughter will come home to them no matter what others think.