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By: Joy Fielding
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2/23/2016
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Flashing back and forth from the present to fifteen years earlier, Joy Fielding takes you on a terrifying journey SHE’S NOT THERE, the nightmare of Caroline Shipley, an unsolved kidnapping of her infant daughter, Samantha—this year, could it possibly be her daughter calling.
Fifteen years earlier the family is on vacation to Mexico—The Grand Laguna Resort Hotel. Caroline and Hunter (an attorney) with daughters, five-year-old Michelle (very difficult), and Samantha two-years-old, sleeping silently in the toddler seat. They had selected this beautiful luxury hotel and spa as the perfect place to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.
The hotel would provide an evening of baby sitting and children’s programs which meant they would have some much needed time for themselves. When they arrived it was a big surprise—their family and friends are in attendance. In a way she was disappointed, thinking she would have alone time with her husband.
Things were not turning out so well with the trip, proving less than stellar. A mix-up with the babysitter, feeling guilty leaving the kids alone, and her brother and sister in law’s bickering. She checks on the girls and they were fine, sleeping; however, when they returned for the evening, Samantha was gone—in Mexico, a strange place and her baby was nowhere to be found!
Michelle had always been jealous of her baby sister. Did she harm her-- first reaction?. She had left the kids in the room alone, due to the babysitter not showing up. Hunter told the hotel they checked on them every half hour. Now, Caroline is beside herself with guilt for leaving the girls alone in a strange hotel. Someone had taken her. She realizes she lost her key card earlier in the day. Hunter had insisted they leave the girls alone, and now she blames him. Except she was just as guilty for going along with it.
There of course was no mention of the fact Hunter left Mexico to return to his law practice in San Diego barely a week after Samantha’s disappearance. Their marriage was over. Her husband has moved on to a new life and family
Now, fifteen years later, their daughter was never found. A miserable life. Now divorced, the reporters call every year on her daughter’s anniversary of the kidnapping. She has to relive the nightmare. The years had not been good to her, haunted by the media, her grief, guilt, and everyone treated her like an outcast and a bad mother.
This year, it is not a reporter on the line. It is a young girl, who says she thinks she is her daughter. Could it be for real? Is it too much to get excited about? Is this her real daughter, and if so where has she been? She says her name is Lili, but she thinks her real name is Samantha.
As the truth slowly unfolds, things are closer to home than she could ever imagine. Everyone thinks she is crazy. However, as most kidnapping goes, it is always someone closer to home than you may think. The lengths people will go when they are desperate--the schemes, the unspeakable acts. A truly dysfunctional family.
A light suspense (not a thriller), more of a drama--- A mother's need for justice, a realistic account of how media can be ruthless, and people can misjudge. Not a lot of likable characters here, the intensity seemed to be missing, and not really pulled in with this crazy family. My first book by the author; however, look forward to reading more.