She's Not There
By: Joy Fielding
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2/23/2016
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
A vanished child, a family in turmoil, and a fateful phone call that brings the torments of the past into the harrowing present . . . the New York Times bestselling author of Someone Is Watching weaves these spellbinding elements into a gripping novel of psychological suspense—a must-read for fans of Laura Lippman and Mary Higgins Clark. “I think my real name is Samantha. I think I'm your daughter.” Carole Shipley's heart nearly stops when she hears those words from the voice on the other end of the phone. Instantly, she's thrust fifteen years into the past, to a posh resort in Baja, Mexico—and the fateful night her world collapsed. The trip is supposed to be a celebration. Carole's husband, Hunter, convinces her to leave their two young daughters, Michelle and Samantha, alone in their hotel suite while the couple enjoys an anniversary dinner in the restaurant downstairs. But returning afterward, Carole and Hunter make a horrifying discovery: Two-year-old Samantha has vanished without a trace. What follows are days, weeks, and years of anguish for Carole. She's tormented by media attention that has branded her a cold, incompetent mother, while she struggles to save her marriage. Carole also has to deal with the demands of her needy elder daughter, Michelle, who is driven to cope in dangerous ways. Through it all, Carole desperately clings to the hope that Samantha will someday be found—only to be stung again and again by cruel reality. Plunged back into the still-raw heartbreak of her daughter's disappearance, and the suspicions and inconsistencies surrounding a case long gone cold, Carole doesn't know whom or what to believe. The only thing she can be sure of is that someone is fiercely determined to hide the truth of what happened to Samantha.
A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Flashing back and forth from the present to fifteen years earlier, Joy Fielding takes you on a terrifying journey SHE’S NOT THERE, the nightmare of Caroline Shipley, an unsolved kidnapping of her infant daughter, Samantha—this year, could it possibly be her daughter calling. Fifteen years earlier the family is on vacation to Mexico—The Grand Laguna Resort Hotel. Caroline and Hunter (an attorney) with daughters, five-year-old Michelle (very difficult), and Samantha two-years-old, sleeping silently in the toddler seat. They had selected this beautiful luxury hotel and spa as the perfect place to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. The hotel would provide an evening of baby sitting and children’s programs which meant they would have some much needed time for themselves. When they arrived it was a big surprise—their family and friends are in attendance. In a way she was disappointed, thinking she would have alone time with her husband. Things were not turning out so well with the trip, proving less than stellar. A mix-up with the babysitter, feeling guilty leaving the kids alone, and her brother and sister in law’s bickering. She checks on the girls and they were fine, sleeping; however, when they returned for the evening, Samantha was gone—in Mexico, a strange place and her baby was nowhere to be found! Michelle had always been jealous of her baby sister. Did she harm her-- first reaction?. She had left the kids in the room alone, due to the babysitter not showing up. Hunter told the hotel they checked on them every half hour. Now, Caroline is beside herself with guilt for leaving the girls alone in a strange hotel. Someone had taken her. She realizes she lost her key card earlier in the day. Hunter had insisted they leave the girls alone, and now she blames him. Except she was just as guilty for going along with it. There of course was no mention of the fact Hunter left Mexico to return to his law practice in San Diego barely a week after Samantha’s disappearance. Their marriage was over. Her husband has moved on to a new life and family Now, fifteen years later, their daughter was never found. A miserable life. Now divorced, the reporters call every year on her daughter’s anniversary of the kidnapping. She has to relive the nightmare. The years had not been good to her, haunted by the media, her grief, guilt, and everyone treated her like an outcast and a bad mother. This year, it is not a reporter on the line. It is a young girl, who says she thinks she is her daughter. Could it be for real? Is it too much to get excited about? Is this her real daughter, and if so where has she been? She says her name is Lili, but she thinks her real name is Samantha. As the truth slowly unfolds, things are closer to home than she could ever imagine. Everyone thinks she is crazy. However, as most kidnapping goes, it is always someone closer to home than you may think. The lengths people will go when they are desperate--the schemes, the unspeakable acts. A truly dysfunctional family. A light suspense (not a thriller), more of a drama--- a mother's need for justice, a realistic account of how media can be ruthless, and people can misjudge. Not a lot of likable characters here, the intensity was missing, and not really pulled in with this crazy family. My first book by the author; however, look forward to reading more.
Advance Praise “Someone Is Watching gripped me from the first to the very last page. Bailey Carpenter is a heroine who's both victim and warrior woman, a fascinating sleuth who will linger with you long after you've finished this thrilling read.”—Tess Gerritsen “Fielding pens a spiraling tale of paranoia and suspense, as sultry as a Miami night.”—Jenny Milchman “An edge-of-your-seat read . . . With Fielding's patented blend of complex characters and escalating suspense, she is in top form here.”—Karen Robards “Engrossing . . . The characters pulsate with life.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) “A gripping, fast-paced psychological thriller . . . Fielding's story of one woman's search for justice, understanding, and internal peace is nothing short of arresting.”—Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Born in Toronto, Ontario, she graduated from the University of Toronto in 1966, with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. As Joy Tepperman, she had a brief acting career, appearing in the film Winter Kept Us Warm (1965) and in an episode of Gunsmoke. She later changed her last name to Fielding (after Henry Fielding) and began writing novels.
Fielding is also the screenwriter of the television film Golden Will: The Silken Laumann Story. At the age of 8, Joy Tepperman wrote her first story and sent it into a local magazine, and at age 12 sent in her first TV script, however both were rejected. She had a brief acting career, eventually giving it up to write full-time in 1972. She has published to date 22 novels, two of which were converted into film. Fielding's process of having an idea to the point the novel is finished generally takes a year, the writing itself taking four to eight months. Joy Fielding sets most of her novels in American cities such as Boston and Chicago. She has said that she prefers to set her novels in "big American cities, [as the] landscape seems best for [her] themes of urban alienation and loss of identity. Fielding is a Canadian citizen. Her husband's name is Warren, and they have two daughters, Annie and Shannon. They have property in Toronto, Ontario, as well as Palm Beach, Florida. Fielding had an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 2007, just after her publication of Heartstopper. She enjoys catching readers off guard with the endings of her stories, but insists that "[it] isn't what her fiction is about", but rather more about the development of her characters. Discussing her novels with the Toronto Star in 2008, she said "I might not write fiction in the literary sense. But I write very well. My characters are good. My dialog is good. And my stories are really involving. I'm writing exactly the kind of books I like to write. And they're the kind of books I like to read. They're popular commercial fiction. That's what they are." Fielding has been noted as a novelist who is more popular in the United States and foreign countries, rather than in her native Canada. For example, the novel Kiss Mommy Goodbye was more popular in the States, and See Jane Run in Germany. In addition, she had an American agent and publisher, although she has now switched to a Canadian publisher. Website Twitter