Not Her Daughter – Review

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley for the chance to read this novel early!img_8884

Have you ever witnessed a child being mistreated by their parent in public and felt the urge to remove the child from the situation? I know I have! I’ve spoken the words, “I wish I could steal that kid and give them a better life,” multiple times to my husband. There’s nothing harder to stomach than knowing a child is being hurt by their parents and feeling unable to do a thing about it because the entire foster care system in this country is broken. If you’re reading this and thinking I’m a crazy person at this point, it’s time for you to dive into Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey.

Get ready for a good-hearted kidnapper!

This book drops readers into this exact situation and takes it a step further – actual kidnapping. It raises the question of what is morally right? Call CPS and have them investigate and return the child back to their home after a traumatic experience of being placed in foster care, leave the child and do nothing, or take her from the situation even though it is against the law. Is there a correct choice?

My very favorite thing about this story was the alternating perspectives between past/present and between the kidnapper and the mother. This allowed me, as a reader, to get a full picture of each character’s life and background, to understand their personality, and decide which person the child would be better off with, in the long run. Though it may seem black and white, I was torn at times. I had empathy for the child’s mother as she experienced the loss of her child – every mom has bad days and every mother gets angry. Where do we draw the line? I also was upset with some of the kidnapper’s silly decisions and felt as conflicted as she did with her inner turmoil. As a mother and victim of parental abuse myself, this was one of the most intense reading experiences I’ve had. I could understand every person’s perspective, from the child to the mother and the third party.

This story brings up important topics and made me wish I was big enough to personally change things for abused and neglected children in America. “The system” is a gigantic mess that seems impossible to tackle. Where would one begin? It’s all incredibly depressing and unfair for these poor, innocent children who become broken at the hands of adults.

I could not stop turning the pages, eager to find out what would happen! Would the kidnapper be caught? Would the mother be blamed? What would become of the child? This story kept me thinking even as I had to set the book down to get on with my day, and made me excited to pick it up again each night, staying up much after my usual bedtime to get the answers I was dying for. This is one of the most immersive debut novels I have ever read. I felt like I was along for every part of the ride and didn’t want the story to end. My only (minuscule) qualm was feeling as if the ending was a bit rushed. There were more answers or maybe technicalities I was hoping to have answered in the conclusion, making me knock a star off the overall rating. Although, this could have been based entirely on my desire to continue reading more about these characters!  I also felt as if some of the kidnapper’s choices didn’t seem entirely realistic, despite her lack of experience. Overall, this was an exciting page-turner and I can’t wait to see what Rea Frey will come up with next!

Purchase on Amazon!


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