Not her Daughter by Rea Frey
Published by: St. Martin’s Press (Kindle Edition)
Fiction, 352 pages
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.
Emma Townsend. Five years old. Grey eyes, brown hair. Missing since June. Emma 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. Kidnapper. Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. 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 whether 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 Emma is gone without a trace.
As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?
About the author:
Rea Frey is the author of four nonfiction books. Her debut novel, Not HerDaughter (St. Martin’s Press) released this August. She has earlier published four nonfiction books.
*Thank you Netgalley for the ARC
Rea Frey’s Not Her Daughter sure packs the punch with its premise: SarahWalker, a successful entrepreneur who caters to children spies a five year old girl being dragged with much violence by her birth mother. Another chance encounter that peels the layers of Emma’s life affects Sarah so much that she decides she cannot stay away: she HAS to step in and rescue the girl. What Sarah ends up doing is called kidnapping but to her, it is the only way to rescue Emma and keep her safe, give her the love and affection she deserves.
Emma’s mother Amy Townshed is weighed down by more than her physical girth: she is exhausted with child care and parenting, of being someone who has had nothing special going on with her life. She does have a spot for her younger son but none for Emma whose very physical appearance riles her no end.
The narrative starts with more focus on Sarah’s life: her childhood trauma of her mother walking out on her when she was a eight year old and a relationship that has only recently ended which looks like the trigger to her risky behaviour. Slowly, we get drawn into Amy’s life and struggle but the writing and character dilemmas is such that one does not get trapped into looking at the right and wrong of the actions of Sarah and Amy. What Rea Frey does with this book is to ask tough questions on who is a mother. It is a book that will look at mother daughter relationships and parent sibling bonds.
The search for Emma puts in the element of what would turn out for the three main protagonists: Sarah, who knows she is legally wrong but emotionally right to have got out Emma; Amy who is part scared that her track record of mistreatment for her daughter will get under the spotlight and at times wants a second chance as a mother and Emma who shines under the love and affection ofSarah. I loved the way the book throws compelling questions on the moral front. Does giving birth to a child make a woman a mother than one who is in no way related to a child? Can a mother be not judged because she cannot go all out to take a shine to the child she has given birth?