From Publishers Weekly
In this spare page-turner, Richmond (Dream of the Blue Room
) draws complex tensions from a the set setup of a child gone missing. Photographer Abby Mason stops on San Francisco's Ocean Beach with her fiancé Jake's six-year-old daughter, Emma, to photograph a seal pup; by the time Abby looks up, Emma has disappeared. Abby, who narrates, flashes back to her growing relationship with high school teacherJake, and sketches its transformation over the course of the search. Emma's mother, Lisbeth (who abandoned the family three years earlier), wants back into Jake's life—even as he is giving up hope on finding Emma. Abby delves into the bereft missing children subculture and into the vagaries of memory. A hypnotist helps Abby unearth promising details of that singular last day with Emma, but the information requires major follow-through from Abby. The book's twist on missing child stories is wholly effective. Richmond develops the principle characters, and Abby's dysfunctional parents make for sharply drawn secondaries, as do local surfers. The book is beautifully paced—one feels Abby's clarity of purpose from the first page. The sure-handed denouement reflects the focus and restraint that Richmond brings to bear throughout. (Mar.)
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Richmond's sophomore effort (after Dream of the Blue Room,
2003) traces a traumatic year in the life of photographer Abby Mason after she loses her fiance's six-year-old daughter. The moment Abby stopped to photograph a dead baby seal while walking on a fog-bound beach in San Francisco is one she will replay in her head a thousand times. That's the last time she saw Emma, who was racing ahead, eager to collect sand dollars. Panic and fear soon give way to sheer exhaustion and emotional shutdown as Abby and Emma's dad, Jake, immerse themselves in the desperate search for the missing first-grader. As the months tick by, Jake becomes convinced that Emma drowned, while Abby is sure that Emma was kidnapped. The trauma and the guilt wreak havoc with their relationship and with their struggle to regain a sense of normalcy. Richmond gracefully explores the nature of memory and perception in key passages that never slow the suspense of the search. Closely echoing Jacquelyn Mitchard's best-selling Deep
End of the Ocean (1996), this is a page-turner with a philosophical bent. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved