[628]: She’s Not There


She’s Not There

by Joy Fielding

Double Day Canada                                                                                       February 23, 2016

I was in a reading rut. A hell I would not wish on my fond enemy. But on Saturday, I finally found reprieve. She’s Not There threw the proverbial raft to save me from an ocean of misery.

About the book

It’s been 15 years since Caroline’s daughter disappeared from her crib at a hotel in Mexico on their 10th year wedding anniversary. Every year on the day of her disappearance, she’s had to deal with the guilt and the shame that the entire world has made her feel. The world hasn’t forgiven her. She hasn’t forgiven herself. And yet, she’s never lost hope. So when she receives a phone call from a girl who claims that she might be her long-lost daughter, she followed her instinct and flew to Canada to meet her. But she didn’t show up. Days later, she showed up at her doorstep in San Diego and threw her life into a frenzy. Old wounds and old hurts will be opened. Lili’s appearance might very well widen the distance between Caroline and her oldest daughter’s already difficult relationship. But Caroline will face anything – even being hounded by the media – just for a chance to finally find out the truth, absolve her of guilt, and to be reunited with a piece of her heart that’s been missing for 15 years.

My Thoughts

Joy Fielding perfectly captures a parent’s worst nightmare in her latest work. While I never would leave my kids in a hotel room all to themselves (especially at such young ages), she shows how easily it was for Caroline to succumb to her then husband’s reassurances that everything was fine. Caroline took the brunt of the blame and the ridicule that the world threw their way. Never mind, that it was her husband’s suggestion to leave the kids in their room while they  dined with their friends. Never mind that her husband only stayed a week longer than her three months waiting for word from the authorities. She was unfairly scrutinized to within an inch of her life. But even if I was angered by this, I can’t help but feel that Caroline did have a victim complex. She didn’t speak up. She didn’t cry foul. She took all of the injustices in stride. She even took the abuse from her oldest daughter. I don’t know if it was because they already had a precarious relationship to begin with, but the tension between the two never let up over the years.

This book made me go through a tumult of emotions for all the characters involved. I was angered by the ex-husband who lied when he said he checked out the kids when he didn’t; I was mad at the world who cast the stone at Caroline; I was even mad at the tempestuous older daughter who was difficult from the get go.

She’s Not There was a one-sitting read for me. I read it with ease all thanks to Joy’s effortless writing. I recommend this to those who enjoys light psychological thriller and an emotional powerhouse. This book gave voice to a resonating nightmare that I bury at the back of my mind every time I leave my 14-year-old and my 9-year-old at home. I always tell them to set the house alarm. Lock the doors. Don’t answer the phone from an unfamiliar number, and never, ever answer the door when someone knocks and we’re not home. It’s that sick feeling I always get whenever I’m not around my kids.

  • Sounds like a powerful read Joy. I love a good read that can tug on your emotions.

  • Oh wow, this sounds like one book which really is going to tear you apart emotionally. I think no mother would ever want to be in that situation and it truly is horrible. I know you mentioned the victim complex, but then again, if you were feeling guilty for something like this you might find it horribly unfair to speak out against anything and it to be what you deserve. You’ve head over heels sold this book to me and I will be trying it for sure.

  • If this is older than I may have read it. I used to read her a lot. I think I already told you that. I can’t remember book names from years ago but that plot is so similar to that little girl that was kidnapped in Europe while the parents ate with friends. Sounds like it was a great read for you and YAY for getting out of a book slump!

  • Oh this would bother me and give me nightmares as well. It’s one of those I want to read it, no I don’t kind of books. LOL It does sound gripping. Brilly review.

  • I’m not sure I can handle such
    book. It’s my worst nightmare as a parent too.

    It’s great that your reading
    slump is over! I hope your next book would be wonderful.

  • I recently got out of a slump, too. My book of choice was Undecided followed up by Summer Skin. Romance to the rescue!

  • Huh. This sounds like the plot of the girl Madeleine that went missing on May 3rd 2007? On my birthday. Ack. Sounds like just the same thing, I think? Though I don’t remember much of that story 🙂 But anyway. Gorgeous review Joy 😀 I’m glad you loved this book so much. YAY! It sounds a bit heartbreaking and awful. I’m curious 🙂

  • I still can’t believe the parents left their kids in a room ALL ALONE. Like…how the HECK are they to defend themselves? Bad parenting 101 right there… I agree with you! I have a 5-year old niece and I would never leave her alone and as far as answering phone calls, Heck, even I don’t answer phone calls if I don’t know the number. They just leave a message and be about their day. huh. This book though, I’m glad it shed some light on this issue!

  • The effortless writing and fact that you read in one siting makes this sound good

  • I’m a in a readig rut too in general this year. 🙁 Glad you overcomed it though. The book sounds really intriguing. I might give it a shot!

  • Oh man, I can definitely see how this affected you emotionally as a parent, particularly the amount of blame that Caroline goes through with everythign as well. It sounds liek a really fascinating book that I should watch out for! Thanks for the review Joy!

  • Denise Baer

    I never read a book by Fielding. The plot sounds interesting, but I’m not so sure I’d like the characters. I’ll check out a sample of it.


  • Melliane

    It sounds really interesting even if I think I would her to act, to tell things. It maked me think of a movie with Angelina Jolie.

  • Oh my goodness, this seems like the type of book that gives you an emotional rollercoaster! I can’t imagine what I would do if that situation happened to me. But, I’m so happy it brought you out of the reading rut you were experiencing. So, yay to these mysteries that just keep your eyes glued to the page!

    – Aila @ Happy Indulgence

  • That sounds so freaking creepy! I’m glad it broke you out of the funk. 🙂

  • I am getting a creepy feeling just reading it

  • This is like that news story of this couple who left their daughter in their room and she was gone! What a nightmare! I can see how this can be such a gripping read for you. It would be for me too

  • I have found that mystery/thriller books are actually a great remedy for breaking me out of a reading slump! Fantastic review, Joy – but I totally feel your paranoia – it must feed on all the worst fears of a parent!

  • Ooh seems so interesting. I love psychological thrillers and emotional roller-coasters so this sounds like my kind of story. Great review.

  • shootingstarsmag

    I can’t imagine having kids and having to leave them around. Gah, it must be really nerve-wracking. However, this book sounds really good. Yay for a one sitting read and getting out of your reading slump.



  • Love your review and glad you found a book to get you out of your reading funk!! I have loved many of this authors books and look forward to reading this one.

  • kindlemom1

    Woo hoo for those reads that can pull us out of those nasty slumps. This sounds fascinating!

  • Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    Oh my God, this sounds so scary. I’m not a mother and don’t plan on becoming one anytime soon but I’m seven years older than my younger brother and the thought of this happening to him is terrifying. I definitely don’t think I could read this but I’m glad this was a suspenseful and emotional read for you, Joy!

  • Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    HOW DOES IT END JOY?! I need to know! This is definitely one that would make me flip to the back first to see what happens. I can’t handle the stress of not knowing! Stories where one person is unfairly ostracized and treated cruelly never fail to piss me off (in a good, I’m-so-involved-in-this-story type of way), so I know I’m going to want to throttle some people. Glad this got you out of your rut!!!!

  • I love the psychological thrillers but the story of this one may not exactly be for me. So nice to know that it got your out of the rut though 🙂

  • I’m glad this was able to get you out of your slump! The concept sounds utterly terrifying and the fact that she’s the one who has to bear more scrutiny and bear more blame already angers me. I’m curious to find out how this ends.
    Great review, Joy!