Cover Image: The Boy in the Photo

The Boy in the Photo

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Member Reviews

A good, quick read. The mystery alone was enough to keep me reading to try and figure out what happened. I don't think I've ever read a parental abduction story before but this was well written and interesting. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The Boy in the Photo
by Nicole Trope
Pub Date 22 Jun 2021 |
 Grand Central Publishing 
 Mystery & Thrillers 

I am reviewing a copy of The Boy in the Photo through Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley:

Megan waits for her son Daniel at the school gates, but as the playground empties and there’s no sign of her son panic bubbles inside of her.

After over six years of sleepless nights and endless days of missing her son wondering if he was okay Megan finally gets the call she has been dreaming about.   Daniel walked into a police station in a remote town just a few miles away.

Megan is overjoyed that her son is finally coming home.  She’s kept Daniel’s room with his Cookie Monster poster on the wall and a stack of Lego under the bed, in perfect shape to welcome him back.  But when he returns Daniel is not the same, he’s traumatized and acts out.

The police inform her that Daniel was kidnapped by his father. After his dad died in a fire, Daniel was finally able to escape.  Megan is desperate to find out the truth and tried to talk to Daniel, but he doesn’t like to answer her questions.  Longing to help him heal, Megan tries everything—his favourite chocolate milkshake, a reunion with his best friend, a present for every birthday missed but still, Daniel is distant.

Megan is sure that Daniel is not telling her everything.  Daniel is hiding a secret, a secret that could put them all in danger.

I give The Boy in the Photo five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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This novel deals with a mother whose child is taken from her, and then with the emotional upheaval of both the mother and the child when they are reunited. We learn of the boy’s ordeals through flashbacks, which I felt was an interesting take on the subject. The flashbacks made the text choppy and disjointed, however, and the story, while intriguing, did not flow.
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This book was a very well written book. It’s a heartbreaking story of a mother whose son is stolen by her ex-husband. There are so many twists and turns that keep you wondering how this is going to end. Just when you think you figured it out something happens and things change. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good suspense story. I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for my honest opinion and review!
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Thank you Netgalley for providing this book for an honest review.  This story is centered around a mother's worst nightmare, her child was taken by her violent ex-husband. The story is told from two different timelines the past and the present. It was easy to read and switch between the two timelines. Megan is stunned when she gets the call that her son has been found. As a mom is was heart wrenching reading about all the issues Megan had when Daniel came home. She wanted everything to be perfect and it was far from it. There are lots of twists and turns along the way.
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The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope is a tautly constructed family drama at the center of which is Daniel, who is finally reunited with his mother, Megan, six years after being kidnapped by his father.

It was a parent's worst nightmare. Megan finally extricated herself from her abusive marriage to Greg, an emotional and sometimes physical bully. But because they shared a son, Daniel, she could not completely avoid contact with him. Even after the custody and visitation arrangements were in place, and the financial issues resolved, Greg continued emailing and texting Megan, attempting to convince her to reconcile. He blamed her for destroying their family, telling her, "You'll know this pain one day." Megan wanted to believe Greg's words were nothing more than an idle threat, but she couldn't help but wonder if he was so angry and unhinged that he might attempt to hurt her or, worse, Daniel. 

And then it happened. Greg did something he had never, ever done before: he picked Daniel up from school. Without Megan's knowledge or consent. Megan soon discovered that Greg's cell and landline telephone numbers were disconnected, and he quit his job a month earlier. Greg's parents insisted they had not seen Greg and did not know his whereabouts. Megan's anguished publicized pleas for her son's return went unheeded, and his abduction became a cold case, although the detective assigned to it, Michael, insisted he would never stop looking for Daniel.

As the years passed, Megan refused to entertain the idea that her son could be dead. She drew strength from the fact that Greg loved Daniel, believing Greg was being raised and cared for by his father, and would return to her as an adult. After Daniel had been gone for five years, Megan found herself guilt-ridden when she realized she had emotionally arrived at a place of acceptance. Eventually, she agreed to have coffee with Michael, who reached out every year on the anniversary of Daniel's disappearance to make sure Megan knew he had not forgotten and would never give up the search. With no alternative but to go on living, Megan agreed to marry Michael and they became parents to six-month-old Evie.

When Daniel suddenly walks into a police station, announcing his identity and reporting that his father died when the ramshackle cabin in the woods where they had been living burned down, Megan is flooded with joy and relief . . . and questions about what Daniel has experienced during the six years he was missing. She hopes their strong emotional bond will still exist when they are reunited, and is anxious about Daniel's transition into the new family Megan and Michael have formed in his absence. 

Trope effectively relates the story through alternating chapters set in different time periods. The book opens in the present day as Megan learns that Daniel's whereabouts have been revealed. Trope then takes readers back six years to the day Daniel was abducted by Greg, providing the perspectives of both Megan and Daniel. Interspersed chapters are set on the anniversaries of Daniel's disappearance, advancing the story by one-year increments and providing insight into Daniel's experiences as he and Greg moved from place to place, and Greg systematically engaged in parental alienation -- the process of breaking down a child's relationship with the other parent. Greg told Daniel horrible lies about Megan designed to make Daniel believe she neither loved nor wanted to care for him. Likewise, Trope reveals Megan's emotional journey as she endured years without her son. The characters' backstories provide context and heighten reader empathy when, in successive chapters, Trope thrusts them back into the drama playing out in the present.

Megan leans, understandably, on Michael, who is able to remain somewhat detached because of his profession and experience, as well as the fact that he never knew Daniel. She also seeks guidance from the therapist retained to treat Daniel, who advises her not to push but, rather, to permit Daniel to relate his experiences in his own time and way. However, Megan remains suspicious, even though DNA testing conclusively confirms Daniel's identity. His behavior is disturbing, alarming, and frightening. The sweet little boy Megan raised is gone and in his place a nearly thirteen-year-old adolescent exhibits anger, hostility, and resentment. Gradually, he reveals the lies Greg told him about Megan, but seems unconvinced when Megan offers the truth. Daniel clings obsessively to an old cell phone he says lacks a SIM card on which photographs of his father and the places to which they traveled while Greg was evading the authorities are stored. At one point, Megan hears Daniel talking to someone when he is alone in his room. As they await confirmation that the fire victim discovered in the ruins of the burned-out cabin was, in fact, Greg, Megan grows increasingly concerned that her son has been so effectively brainwashed, his view of the world inalterably skewed by the years with his father, that he may never become a functioning member of the family and their relationship may never be repaired. Indeed, Megan comes to wonder what horrible acts Daniel might have become capable of committing, and ponders whether it is safe to trust him with Evie.

Trope keeps the action moving at an unrelenting pace as readers' suspicions grow along with Megan's. Because she painstakingly and compellingly reveals what happened to Megan and Daniel during the years they were apart, they are each endearing characters. With Daniel, in particular, Trope has crafted a complex, believable, and heartbreakingly sympathetic young man. He is an innocent victim caught up in a heinous scheme rooted in a need for control and retribution by his father. Trope credibly examines the extent of the psychological damage he sustained. Daniel's bewilderment and confusion is palpable as he struggles to reconcile the mother with whom he is reunited with the one he remembers and, in contrast, the lies he heard from his father for six long years. 

And every parent will understand Megan's anguish, first about finding herself married to a man who tried to control her and then, when that failed, focused his demented quest for revenge on his young son. Megan's evolution from utter despair to effectively managing her grief and finding happiness in her new marriage and second chance at mothering is equally believable and compassionately portrayed. 

The Boy in the Photo is also another cautionary tale about the dangers lurking in cyberspace. Trope includes a harrowing subplot about Megan's online interactions with other parents whose children were abducted by their former partners that nearly results in devastating consequences. 

With its intriguing characters, contemporary topics, and plenty of suspense and surprising plot twists, The Boy in the Photo is engrossing and, ultimately, affirming.
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I liked the concept of this book but it just didn't work for me. I really liked the beginning of it but slowly lost intrested as it went on.
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If you read the summary of this book, the beginning starts off like you would expect... Megan goes to pick up her son at school only to find that he is not there and her ex-husband Greg picked him up instead and disappeared. A nightmare scenario for any mother, but especially troublesome for Megan knowing how abusive, physically and mentally, Greg was when they were married. Six years go by until one day her husband Michael, a local police detective, calls Megan and tells her that Daniel has been found. Unfortunately, he is not the same smiling, happy Daniel he once was. He's mean and cruel, constantly repeating things that Greg used to say to her. What happened to Daniel during the six years he was gone?

The story is told from Megan's POV in the past and present, as well as Daniel's POV from the time he was taken. We get the perspective of both mother and son as they learn to cope without the other around. Megan finds peace in discussing her problems with "friends" online that have gone through similar situations, and eventually ends of marrying the detective that was on the missing persons case. Although I guessed the reveal before it happened, I enjoyed this book. I felt empathy for both Megan and Daniel, as well as Michael trying to help Megan. The author did a great job describing the emotions the characters were going through.
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At the beginning of The Boy in the Photo, Megan is a single mother raising her six year old son after leaving an abusive marriage. She goes to pick her son up form school to discover he has been abducted by his father. No trail is found for six years, when her son, now almost 13, walks into a police station saying that his father died in a fire. Details don't line up, and the book vacillates between time periods, exploring what Megan was going through over the years as well as what Daniel experience and then bringing us back to the present - a present where Megan has a new husband, the original office assigned to the missing person case, and a baby daughter.

This could have been a really great book. The basic story line is there but needed to be further developed. The characters fall rather flat and also needed further development. I found the constant use of present tense in the writing jarring for this particular book and made reading it less enjoyable. It is however, a quick read if you need a light mystery.
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The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope is a thriller novel centered around a mother’s worst nightmare, her child being taken. The book is told from two different timelines of the past and the present.

Six years ago Megan was adjusting to being a single mother after divorcing her controlling and abusive husband. One day Megan goes to the school to wait for her six year old to be dismissed only to find that he was already gone from the school. Police determined Daniel had been taken by his father leaving the country and vanishing without a trace.

Now, six years later, Megan has finally began living her life again after years of living in limbo hoping and praying for her son’s return. Megan had gotten close to the detective assigned Daniel’s case and the two had married having a daughter together. When the phone call comes in the Daniel has been found Megan is overjoyed but hesitant about now having a twelve year old she does not know at all.

Having read Nicole Trope before I expected this book to have wonderful writing and sure enough it did pull me right into the story and was easy to follow as it switched between telling the story in both timelines. The one thing that brought my rating down though was I knew right away how the story would work out in the end so when it all wrapped up there were no real twists or surprises for me with it being so easy for me to work out. Since I did find it engaging and flew through the pages until I got to the end I gave the story three and a half stars despite guessing the outcome.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope exemplifies the psychological thriller. A six-year-old boy is taken from his mom. And the taker is naturally the boy's father and ex-husband of the frantic and discombobulated mother. Why did the father take his child? As revenge for his broken marriage. 
Six years go by and unbelievably Daniel, the missing child miraculously appears at a local police station. Megan, Daniel's mom is thrilled, at least at first. Is Daniel truly the child that she lost six years ago? Where was he and why did he appear out of thin air? And what about his personality? Weirdness abounds as the reader is treated to twists and turns that produce a wonderfully unpredictable denouement that leaves the reader gasping. A sure-fire winner in an overpopulated genre.
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I will be honest this subject of a child being abducted is my greatest fear. I was so scared for Megan but even though her ex was abusive to her I was hoping he would take care of his son. I don’t know if it would be worse if you had no idea who had your child or an abusive spouse? I started this book bout 7:00 pm and read through the night. It was so engaging and I could not wait to see what happened next. This book was a 10 out of 10 for me. I plan to mention it to my book club and see if they want to read it, I know I can read it again no problem. I guess I should mention that Nicole Trope is one of my favorite writers but that doesn’t matter if the book was bad I’d say so. But again this is a winner!
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The Boy in the Photo is a very emotional read. I struggled with it in places as the story is every parent's worst nightmare and this was so expertly written that I couldn't help but imagine how I would be if this happened to me and my little boy. 
I found it a quick read as I could not put it down as I needed to know the outcome as quickly as I could.

Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for my ARC.
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I’ve recently found this author and I’ve loved everything I have read by her. This book, like the other I’ve enjoyed, tell the story the synopsis promises but it also has a much greater story that it tells as well. Wonderful author, everything I’ve read by her has been great!
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4.5 Stars

Such a heart wrenching story about a missing child and the heartache that continues when he returns. It's also about a relationship between a mother and her child, a husband and wife. How abuse can affect our mental health and cause so much emotional pain and how acceptance and strength can heal us and we can come out the other side stronger.

I liked the story line as it takes one to a place where no parent could imagine themselves. Nicole Trope writes such beautiful books and this is no exception. She writes in a way that pulls on your emotions and actually places you inside her main characters. It's a great gift. The book does make you think about how you would react in certain situations and my heart really went out to Megan.
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Six years ago, Megan's ex-husband took their young son out of school and disappeared. Daniel was 6 years old.  She has since remarried and has an infant daughter.

Today she received a phone call ... her son had walked into a police station, gave his name and said his father was dead.

Megan has dreamed about this moment every day for 6 years.  But the reunion isn't going as well as expected.  Daniel seems cold and distant ... and angry.  He is grieving the loss of his father and doesn't seem to connect with his family.  Daniel is not the same little boy who has spent six years with a cruel father who has filled his head with lies.

But Daniel has a terrible secret that he can't share .....

It's an  emotional journey, from the day he left with his father, through every anniversary date, up to and including the events of today.  The story is told by Daniel and by Megan. There are some heart-breaking moments with a few surprises along the way.   Watch out for the major twist at the conclusion.

Many thanks to the author / Grand Central Publishing/ Netgalley for the digital copy of this psychological drama.  Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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