I've just had my main summer holiday as a "staycation" in my static caravan in the Durham Dales. Expectations of sunny days out and lots of sightseeing were squished most days by cloudy, overcast, humid stormy weather and I ended up confined indoors, reading. My first holiday read was the perfect accompaniment to that feeling of wanting to be out doing things but not able to - the story of the aftermath of a lengthy kidnap ordeal - Baby Doll by Hollie Overton a great debut novel.
What an unusual and absorbing story about the aftermath of a kidnap/ hostage situation and the ongoing effects on the whole family of the victim. A very well written debut novel which has made me add this author to my list of new offerings to watch for in the future. I love discovering new authors and finding they have a real talent to entertain me.
The writing style really impressed me and reminded me very much of Jodi Picoult, as it’s very much a human interest story and story of reprisal as much as it is a psychological thriller.
We meet the eponymous “Baby Doll” a woman called Emily Riser, twin sister of Abby when, with her little daughter Sky she finally makes her escape from her captor after being held for 8 years in a dingy basement.
Returning home in her mid 20s after being feared dead since she was a teenager is just the first of many ordeals she has to cope with after putting up with dreadful abuse and torment for such a long time. The intricacies of which are not gone into in too much detail, leaving quite a lot to your imagination but still revealing enough to know that any girl who has gone through this ordeal no matter how strong willed is not going to escape unscathed.
But it’s not just Emily who has had it tough, the family who were left behind wondering what had happened to the teenager have suffered over time too and this crime has left its mark on everyone in Emily’s life. Mum Eve and sister Abby have both let themselves go, with addictions to booze, gluttony, medication and unrewarding relationships knocking their lives skew-whiff.
I swiftly became engrossed in the story of the twin sisters re-united and their love and support for each other vying with darker feelings of envy and jealousy creating an intense love/hate relationship which nobody can break, yet threatens to blow their lives apart.
The story of 6 year old Sky, made the story bear a little resemblance to the highly acclaimed Room by Emma Donoghue, and I would have liked a little more insight into Sky’s feelings after emerging from her whole life in captivity watching her mother being violated, knowing her Daddy was the man accused of kidnap. But apart from the lack of depth to this part of the story the rest is really great, the characters all have flaws and loud voices and even the secondary characters – Missy, for example, wife of the paedophile accused of kidnap and other heinous atrocities.
If you like to examine the actions of others and the causes of how events can shape and distort lives after traumatic events and how people deal with their feelings this one’s for you. If you’re looking for a who-dunnit thriller maybe it’s not quite your cup of tea as everything which happens in this book is afterwards and as a result of the main crime.
I was kindly provided with an advance reading copy for review purposes by the publisher Random House UK/ Cornerstone part of the Penguin family of publishers who offer some of the very best in fiction and I got my e-copy via Netgalley.
You've been held captive in one room, mentally and physically abused every day, since you were sixteen years old.
Then, one night, you realize your captor has left the door to your cell unlocked.
For the first time in eight years, you're free.
This is about what happens next ...
Lily knows that she must bring the man who nearly ruined her life - her good-looking high-school teacher - to justice. But she never imagined that reconnecting with her family would be just as difficult. Reclaiming her relationship with her twin sister, her mother, and her high school sweetheart who is in love with her sister may be Lily's greatest challenge. After all they've been through, can Lily and her family find their way back after this life-altering trauma?