Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey, 3 Stars

First of all, let’s talk about this cover. I love the colors, the adorable shoes. It brings feelings of nostalgia to mind. Back in my publishing days I was called into cover meetings from time to time. It was a weekly meeting (I think) that the editors, designers and publisher attended.

The designers would present cover options for our titles and everyone would sit around hemming and hawing. Sometimes there was consensus, sometimes the designers went back to the drawing board. And sometimes they invited in 3rd parties…aka….the publicity department for our unbiased and uninformed opinions.

I’m sure I unknowingly pushed a designer or two under the bus (sorry about that) while I tried to offer valuable, critical feedback. This whole story comes to mind because I remember one year when legs were so hot. Every great cover for women’s fiction had a pair of legs. It just made you want to pick up the book–supposedly. So maybe this is the year of shoes?

Picturing a pair of shoes without it’s owner can be thought provoking. Because did the person leave them there or was the person taken unwillingly? In this photo, it would suggest that since they are perfectly placed. But then what happened to the person who wears them? Is she just wading in the pond? Is that her running in the background, barefoot in the forest? Hmmmm…

You probably think I’m crazy. But if you really think about it…what does the cover suggest to you?

From the Publisher:

Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

My Review:

I feel like there has been a huge trend lately to call books thrillers that really aren’t. I suppose because Sarah has kidnapped Emma in this book that there is a general sense of suspense, but really nothing I would phone home about. It just doesn’t fit into the genre like a lot of the popular thrillers these days.

That said, I did like the story. I felt the prose was well-written and it was an intriguing story–kind of that whole one person’s trash is another one’s treasure. Although that comes with a lot more implications when we are speaking of a 5-year-old girl.

I suppose my biggest issue with the book is that the characters were so stereotypical. Of course the bad mom is a gross, overweight and depressed beast. And of course, the kidnapper mom who’s amazing in every way is gorgeous, slim and successful. And of course the little girl, Emma is gorgeous. Because why else would she be so desirable to Sarah as her daughter?

The generalizations just didn’t sit well for me. I’m sure there are plently of self-obsessed gorgeous women who are probably terrible moms as well as the more plain average bad moms. And I’m sure there are lots of attractive and less attractive criminals. I would have liked to see characters with a bit more depth than just surface characteristics that pointed to their inner true nature.

We are led to believe that although Emma was born into her life with Amy, that she was meant for Sarah. But who is Sarah to decide that? She is playing God by snatching the little girl up. Don’t get me wrong–a child should not have to live in an abusive household ever. But there are appropriate channels. And while Sarah may not have gotten Emma, she could have fostered or adopted any number of children legitimately.

So in the end, it’s a bit a fairytale–albeit a readable one–of a princess who is saved by the beautiful queen from the awful witch. And they all live happily ever after.

Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

If this book sounds up your alley, pick it up! My opinion is just that! This one is available now–get your copy!



4 thoughts on “Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey, 3 Stars

Add yours

  1. Great review, Vicky, I had similar thoughts along with a couple other Traveling sisters in our group. We thought maybe we were the only ones. lol

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Terrific review! You liked it a bit more than I did, but you mentioned many of the same feelings I had. Interesting thoughts on the cover and what goes into deciding on one – loved that! Great post! 😊💜


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