There are books that make for a great book club discussion, or are just a great read. Then, there are those that are great reads, great book club discussion reads, AND will push your buttons all at once. This was one of them.
Naomi is a 15 year old, who goes missing, and a nationwide search begins. With the story alternating between present and past chapters, it keeps will keep the reader guessing what happens. At the end, both past and present meet, with a shocking ending. I was even more freaked out when I read the last chapter- that has maybe 3 sentences! No afterward, no epilogue, not even book club discussion questions that would hint at what the ending implies. So, this is the kind of the book that you will have to process with someone else that has read the book!
Jenny is a successful doctor, her husband is a surgeon, and they both have one daughter (Naomi) and 2 teenage sons (twins). The story is told through Jenny’s point of view, so we never know what Naomi was thinking about or what really happened. It’s more speculation on Jenny’s part and the reader has to guess, too.
With Naomi gone, Jenny reflects on the time leading up to Naomi’s disappearance and her family. The story raises interesting questions: Can a woman have it all? Can she have a career and a family? Can she be fulfilled in her marriage and still have a successful practice? Can she balance work and children? Can someone truly separate work from home, and not let the issues bleed into another? It is so sad that Jenny has to contend with those questions and internal struggles, whereas her husband simply places blame on her for his choices, and one of her sons does, too.
Both of Jenny’s sons and husband have their own issues to contend with, as well as having guilt over what happened to Naomi. However, it isn’t fully explored because this story is more about Jenny picking up the pieces and looking back at the past to find clues that she may have overlooked. Jenny realizes she wasn’t as available to her children as she thought, and that everyone has their own secrets that might split the family apart. Before Naomi’s disappearance, Jenny had this idea of what her family looks like. It’s only after the disappearance that she realizes there were signs all along, she just chose to not address them at that moment. We all know that even closets have to get cleaned out, skeletons and all. Jenny does that, but will it be too late for her family?
Readers will find out if Jenny is able to change the course of direction her family is on and the consequences of some of her decisions (at work and home). While Naomi does go missing and the story centers around finding her, the story is really about Jenny: a wife, mom, and career woman, whose choices impact those around her. Naomi missing does highlight the cracks in the foundation of the family, which looks perfect on the outside, but is quite fragmented and detached. However, there is hope, acceptance, and love that runs much deeper than anything or anyone can try to break apart.
In the end, it is awesome that Jenny sees her family for who they are and lets them know that she sees them, loves them, and is there for them. It’s a such a great story that is beautiful and heartbreaking.
*Thank you to She Reads and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.