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Review: The Daughter

September 15, 2015

The Daughter

When fifteen year old Naomi disappears, her mother, Jenny, is distraught.  Jenny’s sure she knows her daughter well but, as Naomi’s story starts to unravel, she realizes she doesn’t.  She won’t give up hope, though, even as her family falls apart.  She realizes

It’s easier than you think to lose sight of what matters.

The Daughter by Jane Shemilt uses the disappearance of the family’s youngest child to explore the breakdown of a family because, really, this family was broken before Naomi disappeared.  The story switches back and forth between days before her disappearance to a year afterward so it’s easy to see the family dynamics.

Both of Naomi’s parents are very busy in their careers as doctors and her two older brothers have problems of their own so no one in the family really pays that much attention to what she does and she makes a life of her own.  Her disappearance devastates her mother but I got the sense that was because it made her feel like a bad mother and not because she missed her.

I liked The Daughter but can’t say that I loved it.  The pacing was too slow for me so the story really dragged in the middle.  Even though it fit the story, I didn’t like the ending at all.  I read this book with my book club and most members felt the same way I did, especially about the ending.  We all thought we would act differently in the same circumstances.  One member said she thought the book was an indictment against working mothers which is really interesting since the author has five children and works as a physician herself.  As you might imagine, this book generated a great discussion, even though it wasn’t our favorite.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins and Book Club Girl Book Club.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2015 6:28 am

    Coincidentally I just read an article from the BBC about thousands of missing teens in Mexico and the devastated families they leave behind. This story sounds identical to yesterday’s news.

  2. September 15, 2015 8:10 am

    My book club felt the same way! The ending was odd, and none of could imagine reacting the way the protagonist did, but it did create an interesting discussion.

  3. September 15, 2015 8:30 am

    Oh lord! I would hate this book I know. I am a working mom, and am always juggling trying to make ends meet, and meet the needs of my kids, and work through the working mom guilt all at the same time. I definitely don’t need to read a book that talks about the absolute worst scenarios that can happen to a parent and then point a finger at the working mother. Ugh, no thanks.

  4. Diane permalink
    September 15, 2015 8:31 am

    I decided to pass on this one, I just didn’t think I would enjoy it. Sorry it wasn’t better for you.

  5. September 15, 2015 9:18 am

    This was a book club choice at She Reads a few months ago but I didn’t have time to read it. It’s still on my list but after reading your thoughts I might take it off.

  6. September 15, 2015 9:20 am

    Yes, I recall feeling bogged down at times with this book….and there were definitely some themes that irked me…like an underlying sense that the busy parents were being blamed in some way.

    But it would make a great discussion book, wouldn’t it? Thanks for sharing.

  7. September 15, 2015 9:23 am

    I’m not surprised that this book generated great discussion. So many things to talk about. I understand what you are saying about the ending. And I’m kind of on the fence about my thoughts there. I don’t think it was an indictment about women working, but I do think it points out how easy it is to be so frantic in regular life that you lose connection with the people who are closest to you. This theme is showing up more and more in books I read. Especially ones that include teenagers. And I think it’s valid. I know I’ve thought more than once that I’m glad I’m not going through raising my kiddo now. Probably something every parent has thought though – all through the generations. Does that mean we are getting old? LOL

  8. September 15, 2015 9:39 am

    Sounds like this is one to skip.

  9. September 15, 2015 11:15 am

    Well, at least your group had a good discussion.

  10. September 15, 2015 11:24 am

    I am intrigued by your club’s thoughts on the book, but not sure enough to pick it up for myself.

  11. September 15, 2015 11:57 am

    Glad you had a good discussion anyway… I’m going to pass.

  12. September 15, 2015 12:00 pm

    Funny, I’ve been watching an old tv show Twin Peaks which has such a similiar theme- teen disappears and the ensuing search reveals more and more how little her family knew what she was doing. It’s got so many complex threads unravelling new secrets I’m starting to loose interest though.

  13. Patty permalink
    September 15, 2015 12:06 pm

    Lively discussions are always great…I think I remember really loving this book.

  14. September 15, 2015 3:14 pm

    I find it interesting in book club when a book you’re just ok with is one that generates interesting discussion.

  15. September 16, 2015 7:55 am

    I recently read another book that seemed like an indictment against working mothers. I wish such books projected a more balanced picture.

  16. Literary Feline permalink
    September 16, 2015 12:26 pm

    I meant to read this one recently and then it got bumped somehow for other books. I will get to it eventually. From reading your review, it sounds like it might not have been the best book for the moment anyway.

    Did you feel the book was an indictment against working mothers like your group mate did? I’m curious to see where I fall on that. As a working mother, it would bother me no end if that’s the case. Like Athira, I much prefer a balanced picture.

  17. September 16, 2015 12:47 pm

    Although the book was slow-going, it sounds like it raised lots of things to think and talk about. I will consider it.

  18. September 16, 2015 7:11 pm

    I didn’t love this one either but I mostly enjoyed the time I spent reading it. One of those “good but not great” books for me.

  19. September 16, 2015 8:20 pm

    Nice review…thanks for your honest opinion.


  20. Beth F permalink
    September 17, 2015 8:22 am

    This has been on my shelf — maybe I’ll donate it to the neighbors. 🙂

  21. bookingmama permalink
    September 22, 2015 8:26 am

    I thought this one looked good…. hmmmm. I love that it generated some good discussion though.

  22. September 22, 2015 7:42 pm

    I have this book waiting on my shelves. Interesting about the working mother argument. I never intended to be a stay at home mom, thought it gave kids a sense that they were the center of the universe. That was before I had Gage, of course, and now I find it rare that I judge another mom’s decisions. Being a mom is too hard to not have compassion and understanding for other women in the same boat. Hm. Somehow I’ve talked myself into wanting to read this book, LOL!

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