Cover Image: She's Not There

She's Not There

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Member Reviews

Great read! Looking forward to reading more by this author! Highly recommend this book and author to all!
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Like many people, I'd heard of the Madeleine McCann case, where a toddler was abducted from her parents' hotel suite while they were on holiday, leaving behind her sister, and of course her grief-stricken parents. And like most people, I wondered at her parents' judgment in leaving their kids alone in the first place, and at how they were ever able to go on, wondering whether their daughter was alive or not, and if so, what her fate might be. So I immediately knew what 'She's Not There' was based on and was curious to read a fictionalized account of how a family might cope with such a horrible occurrence.

The novel begins with Caroline Shipley, facing another anniversary of her young daughter's disappearance, now alone for all intents and purposes. Her marriage is long over, and her ex-husband has remarried and has two young children with his much-younger wife. Her remaining daughter, Michelle--the one who was not taken--is a sullen and angry young woman whom Caroline cannot connect with, no matter how hard she tries.

Then the call comes, from a young woman who claims to believe she may be Caroline's long lost daughter, Samantha. Her name is Lilli and she is willing to submit to a DNA test if Caroline will just come to where she lives in Canada to meet with her. After that, things move very quickly, as Caroline, her daughter, and her ex-husband grapple with secrets from the past, and the possibility that Lilli is Samantha.

I was surprised by how unmoved I felt by all the characters in this book. I sympathized with Caroline, but mostly, was exasperated by the abuse she put up with from her daughter, Michelle. And Michelle was, for the most part, one of the least sympathetic characters I have read in a long time. Even her turnaround near the end of the book was too little too late for me. And the ex-husband, Hunter ... he was basically a rat, and remained so from beginning to end. I won't say whether Lilli turns out to be Samantha or not, but I will say this--she was so thinly-drawn, so "sweet" she was basically without a personality, and came across as more of an object through which the author could explore the real characters of Caroline, Hunter and Michelle, and later, the dysfunctional family dynamics between Caroline, her brother and her mother.

The possibility of Caroline getting her daughter back kept me turning the pages, as did the flashbacks to the night of Samantha's disappearance. But when the mystery of how she was taken, and whether Lilli was in fact Samantha was resolved, I felt somewhat let down. I don't know if it was the very cursory exploration of the family dynamics, or the Agatha Christie-esque resolution. But I will say that it made me curious enough to read more of Joy Fielding, since her work appears to be about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and that's always fascinating.
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Didn’t have time to read in 2018 but will read this book in the’s looks really good book.

Have a great summer!
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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5 stars

Couldn't put it down!

Whilst on holiday in Mexico, Caroline and Hunter Shipley's two-year-old daughter, Samantha is taken from her cot and all attempts to find her fail, until the family has no choice but to return to California without her. The book then alternates between the present, which is fifteen years on, and the awful consequences of the actions taken on that fateful night.

The book seems to have been based on the real-life disappearance of Madeleine McCann from which Fielding seems to have drawn her inspiration.

While Hunter and their other daughter, Michelle, manage to go forward, Caroline's life is dogged by the suspicions and accusations of the police and the media, and the public at large.  Caroline has the unfortunate trait of reacting to tragedy by donning an icy calm and so few people warm to her. Just when she can return to her work as a teacher, the anniversary of Samantha's disappearance turns into a media frenzy and few schools will employ her. To make her life more difficult she has a wonderfully hostile mother, Mary, and a taut relationship with Michelle now an adult, who is by nature an unhappy and resentful person.

Then, one day, Caroline receives a telephone call which gives her reason to hope, and despite the negative views of her family, she keeps a hold on that hope, however foolish she may seem.

What this novel highlights in painful detail is the ongoing prejudice against parents who have been so careless as to lose a child, and the total inability of those parents to escape that dreadful past. Caroline suffers each and every day and the reader is left in no doubt of this and cannot help but feel sympathy for her.

Fielding has expertly drawn together a full palette of characters for the reader to love or hate and these characters take their places in the intricacies of the main and sub-plots.

Upsetting, sometimes exasperating but I dare you to put it down!


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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Good story with a thrilling plot.  Kept me on the edge of my seat and turning the pages!!  An author to keep an eye on.
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Hello there.

it’s a bright sunny day here and it is perfect for chilling in the garden with a good book. Today I have another review for you, from one of the best writers of psychological thrillers, Joy Fielding. She’s Not There is her latest novel and it is a real roller coaster of human emotions.

Caroline Shipley has suffered a lot. During an anniversary trip fifteen years ago, her younger daughter has been kidnapped. Taken away from the bed in the hotel room while she and her husband were having dinner at the restaurant. Fifteen years she is trying to find her daughter, fifteen years she is trying to survive. The marriage is over long time ago, the relationship with the other daughter is very sensitive, she loses her job as a teacher several times (who wants to employ someone to take care for other children and can’t take care for her own). Caroline has been accused for neglecting her child, for being a selfish mother, a lousy wife. But she still hopes for a happy ending. Still, after fifteen years, she hopes that her youngest is somewhere safe and sound and will come home one day.

And then, out of the blue, a phone call changes everything. A young woman from Canada claims to be her lost daughter. Coping with many frauds in the last fifteen years, she still decides to give this girl a chance. She really needs to believe in something. Could this girl really be her long lost daughter?

I think that the author portrayed Caroline really well. The struggles of a mother for her child are very emotionally written. Something like this can happen to anyone, it’s every parent’s nightmare. The fear, the suspicions, the struggles, the pain, it’s all there. A real emotional roller coaster, like ripped from the real life. I never suspected that kind of outcome, but the story kept me tensed till the last page. Overall, I liked it and  it is good read for all those who like psychological thrillers.
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Caroline Shipley made one bad decision and has paid for it for years. Whilst on holiday with her family they leave their two small children alone in their room. Despite her and her husband checking every half hour when they return for the evening and check on their youngest Samantha she's not there. Over a decade later Caroline lives with her sadness and guilt plus the judgement of every person she meets. Years of false leads have left her suspicious and yet when a girl calls and tells her she thinks that she is Samantha she can't help but hope....

There are obvious parallels between this story and the Madeleine McCann story, and I worried it could be a bit distasteful but actually it's handled very well. Whatever your feelings about the real life situation you'd have to have a major lack of empathy not to draw the comparisons and wonder how someone deals with not just the sadness and guilt but also the daily persecution  of kangaroo courts convinced of not only you doing something foolish but also been guilty of something much worse. The answer here is you don't- you cut yourself emotionally, from everyone...even your other child.
The story is told in the classic then and now format. Then leads from the holiday, to the disappearance and through the intervening year. Now starts with the phone call, and the possibility her daughter is alive and well. There's no over the top dramatics here - like I said it's told sensitivey, not trying to make a thriller from a sad tale. It is a darned fine mystery though. The ending is a bit too tidy for my liking but I can see what the author wanted to's a wee bit spoilerish to say why but given the chance it's what we'd all do. A decent and sensitive novel, I really enjoyed this.
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*thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

4 stars.

Omg this was sooooo good!! I was not bored at all. The story flowed really well and from the start I was hooked. This has to be one of my favourite kidnapping stories and I absolutely loved how all the pieces came together in the end. The story actually made me cry. So right there is the proof of how much I enjoyed it. I dont think I have read anything else by this author but I have seen her books around so I'm definitely going to be reading more from her. She is an excellent storyteller and I can't wait to see what else she has for me.
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This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for a review. Don't want to give a thing away. Read this book. Now!!   SO great! You won't be able to put it down! Loved! I'd give it 10 stars if I could!!
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What a brilliant book. I couldn't put it down and read it in a day. I found the book well written, interesting and gripping. Caroline, her husband Hunter and their two young children Michelle and Samantha are on holiday in Mexico. It's their 10th wedding anniversary and some of their friends and family have joined their holiday. On the last  evening of the holiday they are unable to get a babysitter so decide to leave the children sleeping and check on them every half hour. However when Caroline checks the children at 10pm, Samantha age 2 is gone! Read on for a fantastic story.
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What a thrilling thriller! This was a pleasure to read and I was surprised often, highly recommended!
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3.5 Stars

Children are precious. A parent’s love for their children is unparalleled, so when a child goes missing it destroys the lives of those parents who loved and cherished their offspring so dearly, and often captures the undivided attention of a whole country, or even the world.

Today is the 15th anniversary of Caroline Shipley's descent into hell.  Her then 2-year-old daughter was abducted while her parents were in the dining hall of a resort.  That night, she lost more than her daughter .... she lost her marriage, her career, was accused by the police of murdering her daughter.  Samantha has never been found .. leaving Caroline in a perpetual limbo.

And then a telephone call ... a young female voice says ... I think I might be your missing daughter.

This well-written psychological mystery puts me in mind of Madeline McCann, a 3-year-old who went missing from a resort in 2007.  She has never been found ... no ransom note was every received.  And as is written in this book ... the parents were suspected of harming or murdering their own child.

This book is told mainly by Caroline... in the present day ...and from 15 years ago.  When she receives the phone call, her first thought is ... it's a scam, someone looking for money, or just being mean.  But  is it?  Or is it really her daughter?

The characters are stand-up, credible.  I loved how the family interacted... mom, daughter, grandmother, brother, sister in law, ex-husband and his new family. Not every family grieves the same .. and in this instance, there's plenty of blame to spread around. 

Many thanks to the author / Bonnier Zaffre / Netgalley for the digital copy.  Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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Thank you NetGalley for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was hooked from page one of this book and it held my attention the whole time.
It was well written and the ending was a total shock.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes psychological thrillers.
This is the 1st book that I read by Joy Fielding but it won’t be my last.
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I always enjoy reading Joy Fielding's work....and this story did not disappoint me...Ms Fielding at her finest.  Sit back and feel this mystery.  Five Stars!
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I loved this book and it gripped me from the very first page.
Two year old Samantha went missing whilst the family was on holiday and she has never been found.  Samantha’s mother Caroline, her father Hunter and older sister Michelle have never recovered from the loss.  Caroline then gets a call from Lily who believes she maybe Caroline’s missing daughter.
Each chapter alternates between the holiday where Samantha went missing and the present with the question of who is Lily?
You’re introduced to their family members and friends who were there when Samantha went missing.
As a reader you follow the emotional rollercoaster of the family.  What are the chances that Samantha is still alive? And what happened all those years age when she disappeared.  I would definately read this author again and highly recommend this book.
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oh my goodness... this book! so good!! great characters with an ending you won't see coming. i love the way it was written and got so caught up in this story, not knowing what was going to happen next. i will be looking out for more by this author
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This was a very fast read that followed a very predicable storyline with the exception of a final unexpected twist at the end.
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Caroline and her husband Hunter along with their two daughters are out celebrating their anniversary with family and friends in Mexico. When they come back to their suite after their anniversary dinner the unthinkable happens as their two year old Samantha is abducted from her crib.Years fly by with no trace of Samantha and take its toll on Caroline . Her relationship with her other daughter suffers and her marriage cannot withstand the pressure and falls apart.But years later on the anniversary of Samantha’s disappearance Caroline gets a phone call from a stranger claiming to be Samantha. Is Caroline’s dream really coming true or is something sinister at play ?

This is a light psychological thriller narrated by the mother's point of view in the past and the  present .I have enjoyed Joy Fielding's books in the past and this was no different. A fast read that I devoured in one day and would definitely recommend 

I would like to thank Bonnier Zaffre & NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and fair review.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.  Sorry my review is late.  She's Not There" was a very enjoyable read that was easy to follow and had a decent storyline which kept my attention from start to finish.
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