5 Stars *****
As with everything the author has written I had high hopes for this book & I wasn't disappointed. At the start of the book we are introduced to Ellen Moore, a social worker and mother of three, wife to Adam who is juggling her busy work schedule with being a mother. She is committed to both her own family and to the children she is sworn to protect in her job. She has seen the worse things imaginable and cares deeply for the families she works with. One hectic morning a moments distraction causes Ellen's world to come tumbling down and she becomes the very person she has made it her job to protect children from.
We are also introduced early on to 10 year old, Jenny Briard who lives with her single father, an alcoholic and the pair move from place to place as her father moves from job to job and various friend-girls as Jenny refers to them. Jenny has not seen her mother in a number of years after her father won sole custody of her and the unthinkable happens one day when Jenny is separated from her father and ends up all alone. At a Happy Pancake restaurant she is befriended by Maudene the waitress and this leads to Ellen & Jenny's worlds colliding with tragic consequences. Jenny's story provides a wonderful contrast to that of Ellen's and made the book even more readable.
This book was very powerful in it's writing and the way that it explores the relationships between mother and child. As a mother of 3 myself I can totally relate to those moments of distraction where the unthinkable could happen. I remember one time being on a family outing to the beach with various aunts and grandparents present and everyone thought that someone else was pushing my 4 year old in her buggy. Thankfully very quickly we realised that no one had her & she was still sleeping peacefully, unaware on the promenade whilst the adults breathed huge sighs of relief. It doesn't matter how good a parent you are mistakes do happen and sometimes the consequences are tragic.
The characters were complex and I couldn't help but feel for Ellen as the story unfolds and what she is subjected to. I loved the strength of Jenny who had already been through so much in her short life and was left at the end really hoping that life takes a much better turn for her.
From the moment I opened the book and read the opening scene I just couldn't put it down. I needed to know what happened to all of the characters, needed to see good win over evil everything just swept me along until suddenly I was at the last page. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written story and also fans of Diane Chamberlain and Jodi Picoult.