Dear Child has already been a big hit in Germany where it was written.
I was intrigued by the premise, especially as it deals mainly with the aftermath rather than the day-to-day imprisonment of a woman and two children, so I was very excited to be given the chance to read it ahead of publication.
There are other books about the return of a missing person but for me this was exceptional. I loved the writing style and the setting, a small town near Munich – but most of all I was drawn in by the complex characters.
Jasmine who has been held captive is strong and courageous although she’s also flawed and not always likeable.
I had so much sympathy for Matthias who has spent the last thirteen years looking for his daughter Lena but his frustration at the lack of help from the authorities drives him to do something regrettable.
But most fascinating is Hannah, who’s both charming and chilling. Her Aspergic-type view of the world has been largely created by her experience of growing up as a prisoner so she’s very knowledgeable about certain things but naive in others and in many ways appears much younger than her thirteen years.
She knows the importance of sticking to rules such as “You must always be helpful” but shows little emotion when comparing the sound of a watermelon being dropped on the floor to the sound of someone’s head being bashed, making the reader wonder exactly what she’s witnessed. She knows that on some occasions people use their “lion voices.”
Throughout the story the mystery of what happened to Lena and Jasmine and the identity of the abductor is teased out in this cleverly crafted novel which builds to a heart-in-mouth ending.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – especially to fans of Room and the second TV series The Missing.
Dear Child will be published in the UK in May by Quercus. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.