Monday, July 25, 2011

Among the Missing

Author: Morag Joss
Publisher: Delacorte Press June 2011 (audiobook by Blackstone Audio, Inc.)

A pregnant woman, believed killed in a bridge accident in the Scottish Highlands, seizes her chance to disappear from her uncaring husband. Determined to safeguard her baby's future and reinvent herself, she befriends illegal immigrant Silva, whose husband Stefan and daughter Anna, as she alone knows, have died in her place. As the bridge is rebuilt, the two women build a precarious existence in a makeshift home by the river. While Silva waits for Stefan and Anna's return and the pregnant woman awaits the birth of her child, they are helped by the boatman, Ron, whose devotion to them masks his guilt for a past disaster for which he must atone.

Each of them having crossed some bridge in retreat from the world, each seeking an ever-elusive peace of mind and struggling with displacement and grief, together the three exiles conjure an unstable mix of trust and distrust, compounded by love and jealousy, both parental and sexual. With the discovery of Stefan's and Anna's bodies in the river, the tension in their uneasy triangle mounts inexorably and unbearably. With the birth of the new baby only days, then hours away, it finally breaks.

I really had to sleep on this one before I reviewed it. Among the Missing is NOT a light book. It is dark and, at times, pretty depressing. From the first page, the author sets you on an emotional roller coaster that doesn't stop until the end. I had to immediately read a light fluffy romance after this to lighten my mood. I have a feeling that this book will stay with me for a long time. I find it really hard to review this book without giving away any of the plot. So, I'll do this instead:

What I liked: The concept of the story. I'm sure we have all wanted to disappear without a trace at times. Although, I'm just not sure how they could all live in the cabin for months and not be discovered. I did like how the author told the story through the 3 characters. We hear from "Annabel" through her point of view. Silva tells us her story through letters to her husband, and Ron's is told in third person. The flow of the book was smooth and is beautifully written.

What I didn't like: I ended up not really liking any of the characters. "Annabel" was just too naive for a 43 year old woman. Her choices from the beginning just made me shake my head. I just couldn't muster any sympathy for her. Really, if you see someone burning your shoes, shouldn't that be a clue that something is wrong? While I sympathized with her on the loss of her family, I felt Silva was just plain crazy and cruel. I think Ron was the only one that had any common sense. I HATED the ending. Then, I have never been a fan for endings that are left open to interpretation. After putting the reader through all that the author did, I felt we deserved something more than what we were given.

If you are looking for some light easy reading, you probably won't want to read this book. In the end, I'm still not sure I liked it. I'll just go with liking aspects of it and leave it at that. You will have to judge for yourself.


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