Archive

Posts Tagged ‘child abduction’

Book Review: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

October 9, 2016 4 comments

Book Review: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate HamerSummary:
Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children’s festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift…

While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is – and who she might become.

Review:
I picked this book up after seeing the title for kind of a ridiculous reason. I’m a big fan of the tv show Pretty Little Liars, and at the time I was in the season where the Big Bad is known as “Red Coat.” I was so stoked to see another mystery surrounding a woman/girl in a red coat that I just had to investigate it. Of course I discovered that it was also a missing/abducted child mystery/thriller (one of my favorite mystery/thriller subgenres), so it quickly ran up my tbr list.

This book tells the missing/abducted child story from both the grieving parent’s and the child’s point of view simultaneously. This is interesting because we can see how they are both changing as time passes, and the mystery becomes not “what is happening to so-and-so” but more “will these two ever find each other again and will they be able to salvage their relationship if they do?”

The mother’s storyline deals with parenting, guilt, and complicated grief. It acknowledges her faults without demonizing her for them. I truly found reading about her struggle to accept and move on without losing hope to be heart-wrenching.

The daughter’s storyline deals with a small girl feeling angry at her mother, grief at her supposed injury and death, and then dealing with having everyone around her believe she has the power to heal through laying on hands. Laying on hands in Evangelical Protestantism is the belief that God can work miracles through you if you lay your hands on a sick person and pray for them. What’s interesting here is that the book takes the position that Carmel does have some sort of mystical healing power, it’s just that it’s not directly related to Jesus and shouldn’t be used to get money from people, the way the man who abducted Carmel uses her to get money out of people. It’s an interesting position to take — that some people can just heal others. I’d say this might be the first magical realism book that worked for me. Because I was really ok with Carmel having this ability just randomly in our world. I also thought that the book manages to not demonize religion. It’s not that religion is bad per se it’s that bad people can twist it to harm others (ain’t that the truth though).

What I found most interesting was the underlying question throughout the book. Carmel and her mother were just not getting along before she was abducted. They didn’t get each other. Is that something they would have been able to get past? Is it something they could get past now if they find each other again?

I think the book answers the most straight-forward questions but it stopped too soon to answer my questions about particular relationships. I think the book either needs a sequel or needed to continue along longer. The point isn’t will this child return physically but rather is this a relationship that could ever be healed.

Recommended to those looking for a child abduction story told from both the parent and the child’s point of view.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

Buy It

Advertisements

Book Review: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

August 18, 2011 8 comments

Picture of Jaycee at the age of 11.Summary:
On June 10, 1991, eleven year old Jaycee Lee Dugard was abducted from her school bus stop by Phillip and Nancy Garrido with the aid of a stun-gun.  Jaycee was locked up in a backyard compound and repeatedly raped and abused by Phillip in a bid to satisfy his pedophilia.  Over the course of her 18 year captivity, Jaycee gave birth to two daughters in the compound.  Eventually with her increasing age, the sexual assaults stopped, but she was still held captive.  Finally, on August 26, 2009, Phillip brought Jaycee and her daughters with him to the parole office in an attempt to explain away why he was spotted in public with the two girls.  Jaycee, who hadn’t been allowed to speak her name for 18 years, was able to write it down for the police.  This is the memoir of her experience and gradual recovery from the captivity.

Review:
Jaycee wrote this memoir without the assistance of a ghost writer, something very uncommon in memoirs by victims of abduction.  She states in the beginning that her way of remembering things is a bit off because of the trauma, but that her way of telling her story will provide a genuine experience for the reader to truly see how the abduction affected her.  She is correct that the memoir is not set up in a traditional way, but this tends to make for stronger books when discussing something as painful as this.  It reminds me a bit of the very non-traditional story-telling methods used in another memoir When Rabbit Howls.  Eliminating the ghost writer and letting the victim speak grants us, the readers, the opportunity to truly connect with a survivor.  I humbly thank Jaycee for her bravery in this.

Most of the chapters start with Jaycee remembering the events from the perspective of her younger self.  This absolutely makes scenes such as her first molestation by Phillip incredibly haunting.  She then ends each chapter with a reflection from her adult, free perspective on the past.  This structure is unique, but it provides an interesting perspective, showing both Jaycee the victim and Jaycee the survivor.  Toward the end of the book this structure is lost a bit as we suddenly are shown many pages from the journal Jaycee carefully kept in captivity, as well as talking in a more present manner about the therapy she’s been going through.  Her therapist sounds truly remarkable.  She uses horses to help the survivors deal with problems, which seems to work incredibly well for Jaycee who often only had animals around to talk to during her 18 year ordeal.

Although Jaycee does recount her abuse and manipulation at the hands of Phillip, that is not at all what stands out in this memoir.  What comes across is what a strong, sensitive, caring woman Jaycee is.  She is not lost in woe is me.  She does not even think she has it the worst of anyone in the world.  The one thing she repeatedly states she’s learned is that she was not assertive enough as a little girl, and that personality trait backfired on her repeatedly throughout the ordeal.  She states that she sees this as the reason abuse of all kinds are able to go on, because people don’t speak up.

There are moments in which all of us need to have a backbone and feel that we have the right to say no to adults if we believe they are doing the wrong thing. You must find your voice and not be afraid to speak up. (page 143)

This message of “speak up” is stated repeatedly throughout the book and leaves the reader feeling empowered rather than downtrodden at such a tale.  If Jaycee could live through such a situation and come out of it stronger and as an advocate for victims and survivors of abuse to speak up, how can any of us do any less?

I recommend this book to those who enjoy memoirs and survival stories and can handle scenes of a disturbing nature.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It