Jane Shemilt has weaved a frightening tale within a seemingly happy family. Dr. Jenny Malcolm is a successful family doctor in Bristol, and her husband is a successful neurosurgeon. Both have schedules that keep them away from home, but that is ok…right? Their children…17-year old twins, Theo and Ed, are busy with school and preparing for graduation and college, and their 15 year-old daughter, Naomi, is a good student who is focused on rehearsals for her upcoming performance of West Side Story. Jenny feels the family has it altogether. Yes, her daughter is a bit more distant, but that is normal for a teenage girl, right? And Ed seems angry and overly tired….but he does have rowing and school on his mind, right? And her husband…where has he been? It is ok….he has a lot on his plate at the moment….life as a surgeon is overwhelming. So Jenny keeps plugging along with her life…..
Until her daughter doesn’t return home from her final play rehearsal. It is at this moment that Jenny’s life begins to unravel, and she begins to see her life as it really is.
The story bounces between the present and the days surrounding Naomi’s disappearances. Jenny is the Queen of Avoidance and refuses to see what has been happening in her own house, and she dismisses it for normalcy…she rationalizes the behaviors of all of those around her, and as a reader, I wanted to tell her to open her eyes and see the truth. And that what makes it so frightening real…we all spend a good potion of our day rationalizing. It is a basic human reaction to things we cannot control, and Jenny realizes this too late.