For some reason or another, I haven’t got round to read”Elizabeth Is Missing,” even though I heard good things about it. And I’m not sure I will read it now that I’ve finished Emma Healey’s “Whistle in the Dark,” which is due in May.
This is not a bad book, but it was a bit difficult to follow, mostly because of lots of unnecessary digressions and I feel it should have been a lot shorter. The characters seem forced and by the end, I couldn’t say I cared about what happened to them too much.
This is the book blurb on Goodreads:
“Four missing days. Could you cope with not knowing?
Jen’s 15-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police draw a blank. The once-happy, loving family return to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.
As Lana stays stubbornly silent, Jen desperately tries to reach out to a daughter who has become a stranger.”
It sounds more interesting than the book actually is. The story is not so much about Lana, the missing teenager, but about Jen, her hapless mother, who tries in vain to reconnect with her daughter. The feeling I got was that this reconnection was mission impossible, not because of the incident that led to Lana’s disappearance, but because the connection wasn’t there in the first place.
Lana is a teenager who struggles with depression and wants to kill herself. She mentions this to her mother in the most peculiar moments, casually, as she was talking about what takeaway to get for dinner. Jen is obviously worried and does her best to get to the bottom of the problem, but fails because she is too normal a woman to deal with this sort of mental health issue. Healey did a good job of describing the mother-daughter dynamics but somehow failed to make me care about either of them.
The flatness of the story is what ruins what it could have been a great rendition of being a mother of a troubled teenager / the daughter of a run-of-the-mill mother. As someone who was raised in a family where no one besides them suffered from depression in their life and knows first-hand how it feels like to be brushed off as “difficult,” I figured Lana would be developed into a more complex character. That didn’t happen, and by the middle of the book, I got bored with all the angst that seemed somehow forced.
The ending was the best part of the book, but even though it wasn’t predictable, I was still left with a “meh” feeling. I loved the writing at the end, as it was more powerful than the rest and it somehow made it up for a book that felt like going on forever.
*I was sent a copy of this book for my independent honest review from the publishers.