Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Date of publication: August 21st, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Trigger Warning: Child Abuse, Kidnapping
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Not Her Daughter is one of those books that you need to read with tissues. It is also a thought-provoking book. It makes you think how far would you go to help an abused child. And how far is too far? What this book also showed is how people turn a blind eye to problems that aren’t their own. At any point, the school/neighbors/babysitter could have stepped up for Emma. But they didn’t. No one wanted to rock the boat. No one wanted to take that extra step to help Emma until Sarah arrived.
I know this is going sound weird, but I kind of felt for Amy right after Sarah took Emma. My sympathy was taken away as the story went on. She became unlikable. She only thought about herself. Not about Emma. Not about her husband or son. Just about herself. I came to the conclusion at the end of the book that she was some sort of sociopath. She deserved everything that happened to her after Emma was taken.
On the same note, I couldn’t believe how clueless Emma’s father was. How could you not notice your wife mistreating your child? How could you not see the bruises or even the fact that your child was malnourished? I know most people would feel bad for him, but I didn’t. He lived with his head in the sand. He did end up doing the right thing in the end by leaving Amy but still. Too little, too late.
Sarah was such a great character to read. She was conflicted and man, did she have her demons. I thought seeing Sarah so torn on taking Emma was great. She wasn’t a bad person but she did something that was horrible. Even if it was to protect a child. Her demons did show up during the book. Between the ex that she shouldn’t have let get away to her very childhood, she was forced to face them. I like how it was done during the book. I also liked how Sarah learned and grew from facing them.
Emma was the only one that I felt completely bad for. Her mother hated her. Why? Because she was prettier than Amy. Yes, you read that right. So, she ended up getting the short end of the stick. She was neglected, beaten and not fed right. Then Sarah comes along and takes her. Don’t get me wrong, it was for the better. Emma thrived with Sarah. But still. Even at the end of the book, Emma was treated like some sort of hot commodity. Emma did get a chance to make her choice and I was pretty happy with what she chose.
The child abuse angle was very well written. The author did a great job of giving enough detail so you knew what was going on. But she didn’t give too much. I have read books that give too much detail. Which is fine. But in this case, it wasn’t needed.
The kidnapping angle held enough oomph to keep my attention. Sarah’s run from the law while trying to heal a wounded child and deal with her own issues. The author did a great job at not dropping the ball with that. The urgency was there and it did not let up. I did think that Sarah going to her ex’s cabin was a bit of a fail but I could see why she did it.
I do not like more than 2 POV’s. I get thrown off the storyline. But in this book, it works. I got to see what was going on in all 3 people’s minds as this drama unfolded. It fascinated me and kept me reading.
The end of the book was anticlimactic for me. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. I felt let down. After everything that happened in the book, I expected more out of the ending. I loved the epilogue. Thought it was one of the best ones I have read to date.
What I liked about Not Her Daughter:
A) Thought provoking
C) The epilogue
What I disliked about Not Her Daughter:
A) Amy. She was an unlikable character
B) The abuse Emma endured
C) The people in the book that turned a blind eye to what was going on with Emma.
I would give Not Her Daughter an Adult rating. There is language. There is violence. There are sexual situations (but no real sex). I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
There are trigger warnings in Not Her Daughter. They would be child abuse and kidnapping. If any of those trigger you, I suggest not to read this book.
I would recommend Not Her Daughter to family and friends. I would also reread this book.
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Griffin, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Not Her Daughter.
All opinions stated in this review of Not Her Daughter are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**