During the two years after her daughter Emma was kidnapped, Megan was sure that all her family needed to be whole, perfect and happy again was for Emma to be returned, somehow, to them. Now Emma’s back, but all is not as Megan expected. Instead, she finds her heart breaking all over again. How can her daughter, now 5, love the people who kidnapped her? How can she miss them? Her daughter’s personality is different, too. Megan watches her colouring picture after picture for “Papa” and feels a sense of rage. How can she reunite her family properly if Emma insists on viewing these evil people as part of her family?
Emma’s Secret is actually a sequel to Finding Emma (linked to Jennifer’s review). I didn’t read the first, but author Steena Holmes provides enough background information that it’s not necessary. This book opens with a description of the day Emma is taken by an elderly woman suffering from dementia, who’s convinced herself that Emma is her granddaughter. Emma spends 2 years living with the old couple in their isolated farmhouse, only about 20 minutes away from her devastated family. The elderly couple adore her, and she naturally comes to love them as well. She’s only 3 when taken, and the woman, Dorothy, tells her her mother is dead.
Throughout Emma’s Secret, old journal entries give us a glimpse into the workings of Dorothy’s mind. Additionally, we spend some time with “Papa,” Jack, now grieving the loss of his wife and the loss of the golden-haired girl he’d loved as well. (We are never quite given a clear answer as to why he went along with Dorothy’s assertation that Emma was their granddaughter, although we see him scolding himself for not following his misgivings. Still, he’s a very sympathetic character.)
Megan and Peter’s marriage is struggling–they both have trust issues, and Pete seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time with his attractive co-worker, Samantha. Their oldest daughter, Hannah, seems to be mothering Emma almost more than Megan is, and their middle daughter, Alexis, feels neglected because of all the attention Emma’s getting. One day, Pete takes Emma out for breakfast, and they run into someone Pete would rather forget existed. But at this point he’s faced with a choice–does he risk his marriage or his youngest daughter’s happiness?
I enjoyed Emma’s Secret. It takes a realistic look at a family struggling to recover from a huge trauma, and shows that in life, even the happiest outcomes of horrible events leave scars and ramifications to deal with. Overall, I feel good about this family, that they will survive. Emma’s Secret offers hope and forgiveness, but shows that such things are not without price. Highly recommended, even though Megan has ruined my diet by her constant eating of chocolate croissants and home-made cinnamon rolls, baked by her close friend, which made me hungry. Seriously, do women really eat like that anymore? I recommend it anyway but be warned!
This review is a part of BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge.