Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

ebook, 368 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by St. Martin's Griffin
About the Book: 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.

I am having a hard time with this review because I enjoyed the first 3/4 of the story. I have read a lot of rave reviews for this book so I know that I am in the minority, but it just didn't sit well with me for the last 1/4. I wish that I liked it more, I really wanted to. The book is about a reverse kidnapping to help an abused child, and there were (too) many other plot lines along the way. I won't bore you with them or giveaway any spoilers.

She prays there are no neighbors; that her child will stop screaming; that she will wake up from this Groundhog Day of her life to find something different in the morning.

The chapters in this story alternate between before, during and after. They also go between three different narrators Amy, Sara and then finally Emma. While some aspects of this story are predictable, there are a few twists which I did not expect. It was those twists kept me turning the pages. I felt the romantic plot line 3/4 of the way through the story was very far fetched and unnecessary.

She had children now and that tethered her to this life, these dishes, the endless to-do list, and this filthy house for the next two decades, at least.

Rea Frey does write wonderfully human characters - even her most devious and dark characters have redeeming human traits to them, that let you understand why they might have done what they have done. And those characters let you connect to the story.

She would blink into their pretty faces and realize, even though they were all women, she couldn’t be more of a foreign species if she tried.

This author sure has a way with writing females in their relationships, as mothers, and as independent women. Whether you’re a mother yourself, a woman, or even just a supporter of women and mothers, you’ll have a hard time not feeling the tension as an abused child gets kidnapped and goes on the run. This is the part of the novel I enjoyed most.

She was so exhausted by constantly leading with her weight, her looks, and the unhappiness that made her yell, hide, and eat.

Being a mother myself, the sympathy I felt for both women was real and I couldn't imagine being in either of their positions. I just keep rooting for a happy ending. All in all I found Not Her Daughter to be a very different kind of story.


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