An Innocent rite of passage turns into a nightmare for four couples, exposing their secrets and risking the lives of their children.
After passing the bittersweet parental milestone of putting her daughter, Sarah, on the bus to sleep-sway camp for the first time, Lena Trainor plans to spend the next two weeks fixing all the problems in her marriage. But when a second bus arrives to pick up Sarah for camp, no one seems to know anything about the first bus of its driver.
Sara and three other children have been kidnapped, and within hours of the crime the parents receive an email demanding $1,000,000. When specifics of the delivery terms throw suspicion on the parents on two of the abducted children, some of the couples begin to turn on each other, exposing fault lines in already strained marriages and causing some to forge new alliances. While the kidnapped children are living their parents' worst nightmare, the police are trying to sort the lies from the conflicting truths in conflicting stories and alibis that seem to be constantly changing.
I seem to be reading books lately that I'm having split opinions on, this book isn't going to be any different in that regard. I'm in love with the premise of the book. As a parent, I can't imagine what it would be like to entrust your child into the hands of someone you thought you could trust, only to have them disappear with no hope of being found. When the camp van arrives to pick Sarah up, Lena had no idea the polite young man was not who he claimed to be. He had all the paperwork, even made Lena sign some consent forms and was able to answer all her questions. He mad Sarah feel at ease about not going to soccer camp instead. So when the real van shows up later on that morning and she finds out the last 3 kids on the stop are also missing, Lena's nightmare is just starting.
The fear and blame that Lena and the other parents must feel has to be gut wrenching. The self doubt and mistrust could only make the situation worse. At least I would think it would. While those emotions are mentioned and somewhat explored in the book, I would have liked to have had the author delve into it a little bit more. I wanted to feel the pain and anguish as I'm reading the book, and while I could mentally understand what the parents were going through, I couldn't feel it. My heart didn't start beating any faster nor did my pulse race at any time while I was reading. I wanted more suspense and I wanted to physically feel the aftermath of what took place, and while the ingredients are there, it didn't quite work on that visceral level.
I think part of the issue, for me at least, was the way the author kept splitting points of view. We see the story from the parents, children, kidnappers, and police points of view and for some reason they just don't all mesh that well. The going back and forth felt almost to frantic at times, as if the author was using the story telling technique to explore the fear and emotional turmoil, instead of the story itself. It didn't allow me to really connect with any of the characters on a basic level. I liked them and was rooting for them, but in the end I knew it was a book, that it wasn't real, and that every thing would work out in the end. I never got lost in the story, which is a pity. As a parent, I should have been grabbed by the story and the characters, I should have been imagining myself in that position, but I never did. I was entertained and I enjoyed it as a book, but I never really connected.
Now with all that being said, I'm still pleased to have read the book. It was entertaining and kept me reading a long because despite feeling disappointed, I still wanted to know how it all turned out and who was responsible to for such a horrific action. Besides this book did accomplish one thing for me, I will now be double checking everything before I ever let my son go off to a sleep away camp.
Now stay on the lookout for Tuesday as I will have a guest post from the author and a giveaway.