Saturday, 26 May 2018

Book Review: THE NOWHERE CHILD by Christian White

Author: Christian White
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Read: May 2018
Expected publication: 26 June 2018
My Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ1/4

Book Description:

On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes she is that girl.

At first Kim brushes it off, but when she scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying, and entirely unexpected climax.

My musings:

How would you feel if you found out that everything you believed about your family was a lie? Shocked? Confused? Betrayed? Perhaps all of those, and more. When a stranger turns up on Kim Leamy’s doorstep in Melbourne, telling her that he has reason to believe that she might be Sammy Went, a little girl who disappeared at the age of two from her home in Manson, Kentucky, never to be seen again, she dismisses it as a bad joke at first. However, her mother has recently passed away, and there are some niggling questions about her childhood Kim cannot answer. As evidence mounts, Kim knows that there is only one way to find out – to go to America herself and retrace Sammy’s last steps.

Am I the only one that finds skeletons in family closets simply irresistible? As soon as I heard the premise of this novel, I knew that I had to read it. Perhaps because my own mother died when I was a child, and there are so many questions I will now never know the answer to. So I fully “got” Kim’s confusion and frustration, and her need to find out the truth – as shocking as it may turn out to be. Because what can be more confronting than finding out that your parents may not be who they have claimed to be, and that you may have a whole other family in another country – a family who gave you up for dead twenty-eight years ago! White doesn’t leave it at that, he also throws in some interesting plot twists and settings that added something unique to this story. The “then” and “now” timeline lets us explore the events that led to little Sammy’s disappearance, and finally give us the answer to Kim’s many questions – though they may not be what you had expected.

I admit that despite its intriguing premise, I had a few issues with being able to connect to the characters, which made me feel a little less invested in the mystery than I had hoped. A couple of POVs felt unnecessary to me, stalling the story and distracting from the main narrative, although other readers may disagree. Personally, I found I wished for a bit more suspense, as all the right foundations had been laid and were there for the taking, but never totally paid off for me and I felt my interest waning a few times as the story digressed from its main focus. That said, The Nowhere Child was a quick and entertaining read that kept me turning the pages, and although it did not raise goosebumps, the final denouement was satisfying and held a few surprises in store. All in all it should appeal to lovers of mysteries that are based around dysfunctional family dynamics, and those readers who like a somewhat unusual setting (you will know what I mean when you read it). The Nowhere Child is White’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from this author in future – with his self-professed passion for true crime podcasts, there may be some more interesting stories coming our way soon!

Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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