Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

As a new mother (well new-ish mother) this book immediately caught my eye. The summary sounded so interesting….’unsure if she wants her daughter back’.

Talk about chilling. As a new mother, I can’t imagine not wanting my kid back which immediately made me want to read this book, because the characters sounded exceptionally compelling if not entirely likable.

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 (summary from Goodreads).

This book will make readers question their own morals and ethics. It’s a very thought provoking read with difficult content to ‘normalize’ but yet somehow debut author Frey does it.

There was a lot to praise Frey for when it comes to interesting and unique plot and a well written ethical dilemma. I was impressed by Frey’s writing and approach to a difficult topic. Most of the book was fast paced and hooked me in from the first few chapters. The characters were interesting and again you might not like some of them, but that’s the point of the novel and I loved that aspect.

There were some things though that needed some more help to become believable. For example, I had a hard time believing that none of the school staff or teachers noticed the bruising on Emma (the little girl). As a former educator, we are hyper aware of those type of things and are constantly asking kids if they feel safe etc. Now I realize that not every school is as vigilant but I felt that simply having no one notice made it unbelievable. Now things like that obviously didn’t ruin the story for me, but there were times that I was like hummmm, the author could have easily addressed that and not left it as an unaddressed problem in the story if that makes sense.

This author excites me as a debut novelist (she’s written other non fiction, but this is her first novel) and I’ll tell you why. While this book was interesting and thought provoking as well as suspenseful, the plot lacked a little depth that you might expect from a novel that forces the reader to sympathize with unsympathetic characters. As a new writer I thought Frey did a great job but didn’t fully cross the threshold of this topic. I think there was a lot of room for her to expand. But what makes me excited is I think with more time and experience, she can easily write a heavy hitting novel that will tear down the threshold.

This is an ambitious novel for a debut, but I think Frey does a great job rising to the occasion, but I think with a little more experience and time, she will write a novel that’s exceptional. She has lots of potential and this solid debut demonstrates just what she’s capable of with a little more time and experience.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

  • Paperback, 352 pages
    Published August 21st 2018 by St. Martin’s Griffin
    ISBN 125016642X (ISBN13: 9781250166425)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own
  • Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5
  • Genre: contempo lit, mystery, thriller, suspense
  • Memorable lines/quotes: 
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