Is it really kidnapping when you’re rescuing a child?
Not Her Daughter is the story of a little girl named Emma Grace. Her mother, Amy, is an unhappily married mother of two who constantly feels frustrated and overwhelmed with her life. She’s often impatient and angry with Emma, treating her roughly one minute, negligently the next. Sarah Walker had a similar relationship with her own mother, and when she witnesses Amy’s abusive manner, she feels the need to help Emma. When she crosses paths with Emma a second time—witnessing more abuse—Sarah steals her away, risking everything for the sake of a little girl not her own.
I love a book featuring moral conundrums, particularly when a character is driven to doing something wrong in order to do something good—in this case, protecting a child from her abusive mother.
The story features the perspectives of both Amy and Sarah. On the surface, neither woman is likable; one is an abusive mother, the other is a kidnapper. I found it easy to sympathize with Sarah, though, because she truly believes she’s helping Emma by stealing her away—and Emma doesn’t seem particularly bothered to be away from her family, which convinces Sarah she was right to take her.
I was surprised when I felt sorry for Amy, as well. It’s true she wasn’t a good mother to her daughter, but I felt sympathy for how completely overwhelmed she felt and her inability to cope with things. That doesn’t excuse how she treated her daughter, of course, but it made her a bit more relatable; stress is a heavy burden to bear, even more so when you have a family to care for.
Right or wrong, I wanted Sarah to keep Emma, and felt she would have a better life with her, rather than her family. Pretty sure that’s the first time I ever sided with a kidnapper in a story… which feels kind of weird, but the kidnapper was the ‘good guy’ in this story.
Not Her Daughter is a fantastic book, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from Rea Frey!
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.
Emotionally powerful 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.
About the Author
REA FREY is the author of four nonfiction books. Her debut novel, NOT HER DAUGHTER, will be released by St. Martin’s Press August 21, 2018.
When she’s not exercising, mothering, adulting, wifing, eating, or writing about herself in the third person, you can find her hard at work on her next book and ghostwriting for other people.