Released: June 2018 in Australia but released in international markets throughout 2019
Publisher: Harper Collins
An Australian woman in her thirties is shocked to discover she is actually an American who went missing as a toddler.
Kimberly Leamy is a photographer and teacher in Australia. Thirty years ago on a continent an ocean away, a two-year old girl named Sammy vanished from her home in rural Kentucky.
One day a man approaches Kim with evidence pointing toward her actually being that missing girl. Her world shattered, Kim travels to Kentucky to meet her biological family and to try to get to the bottom of how she came to be an Australian named Kim. Could the woman she had loved and known as “Mum” really have taken her from another family?
Her family reunion is not the happy scene she thought it would be as she is drawn deep into the their long held secrets and betrayals. As Kim tries to learn more about her abduction, she comes to realize the grip a local religious cult has on her family, but has she realized this too late?
Kidnapping stories are a staple within the domestic thriller genre, something the author mentions in the notes at the end of the book. However, he wanted to do something different with it and thus The Nowhere Child was born. Every year there seems to be a kidnapped child found living with their captors, whether it’s as a prisoner or as a family member who had no clue they had been kidnapped.
Despondent mothers stealing infants off maternity wards was something I remember being a public fear when I was younger, and fit perfectly with a book I read and loved as a middle schooler, The Face on the Milk Carton. Were you ever even a teenage girl if you didn’t read this book?
There are some similarities between the two stories, at least until about the last third when things get pretty intense in The Nowhere Child. Religious cults, snakes, and dark family secrets within this small rural town seemed to explode non-stop from the pages as Kim tries to learn more about who she truly is. I found myself unable to stop reading the last hundred or so pages, staying up way past my bedtime because I had to know what happened next. What more can you ask for from a domestic thriller?
The novel was certainly engaging and fun to read, but I did have a couple issues with it which is why I haven’t rated it higher. Judging by other reviewers though, I seem to be in the minority!
At first, we don’t learn much about Kim and her life because she accepts the shocking revelation about her identity from the start. I found it a bit odd especially given how mild mannered she was. I don’t know about you, but if some random dude from another country came up to me and said, “Hey, you’re my long lost sister who was kidnapped as a baby,” I’d want to do some research of my own. I would have liked to have seen a little more internal struggle with this information by the character before she got on a plane to travel halfway around the world to meet her biological family.
One other thing that really irked me about this book was an unnecessary comment toward the beginning about anti-depressants. A comment made by a character who was a pharmacist no less.
“Just how sad was this Andrea Albee anyway? Was turning her brain numb- and that’s exactly what she was doing: contrary to popular opinion, Prozac didn/t make you feel happy or right- truly worth the side effects?”
Syntax aside, to have this comment made by a person who is trusted by members of his community to provide them with their much needed medications is pretty outrageous. It sort of tied in with plot points later, but not strongly enough for this comment to be worth it. There’s so much stigma about mental health already, the last thing any of us want to think about is our pharmacists judging us like this. It was unnecessary to the story and could be harmful to some readers. I truly hope that isn’t how the author actually feels.
There were some fantastic elements to the story, though, and for a debut I have to say I’m really impressed.
One of my favourite parts wasn’t a part of the book, but was in the author’s notes at the end. In addition to giving us a bit of interesting backstory as to how he came up with his novel, he gives the readers a wonderful, heartfelt thanks. It’s one of the best bits of gratitude from an author that I’ve ever seen.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading my book. Honestly, it means the world to me. I can/t remember if I read this someplace or made it up myself, but the relationship between the author and the reader is like a sacred pact. The reader gives the author a dozen or so hours of their life and in return, hopefully, the author gives them a story worth their time.
Over the years I’ve read a ton of books and have always expected a lot from whoever I was giving my time. Now that I’m on the other side of the pact, I want you to know that I take this shit seriously.”
How amazing is that? It warmed my little book nerd heart and I feel safe in saying that Christian White and I are BBF’s now. Okay, maybe not, but as an author he’s gone up a few notches for me. Thanks Mr. White for letting your readers know that we’re in this literary journey together.
The Nowhere Child is a dark debut that is full of mystery, family drama, and shocking secrets. I was fully reeled in to this troubled American town and the flawed characters within it, especially toward the end. When it came time to rate it, though, I did find myself teetering between three and four stars because of the niggling issues I had with the book. However, after reading the author’s notes at the end he won me over and I landed on closer to four stars. Flattery gets you everywhere it would seem! (At least with this reader.)
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3 thoughts on “The Nowhere Child by Christian White”
That first issue you had sounds like the issue I had with here there are monsters where it couldn’t get me to suspend disbelief. And I read alot of fantasy so it isn’t hard to get me to suspend disbelief. But I agree. If someone just walked up and dropped that.bomb shell on me? I would hardly just take it at face value. That is a far stretch lol.
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Yeah, I mean I love a good conspiracy theory but like dude, maybe research it a bit before fleeing the country?
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Yes like give me SOMETHING to buy into. I watch the freaking Walking Dead. This isn’t difficult. I can get there but meet me half way lol.
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