I have to say that I am not very keen on books about kidnappings, but this one has surprised me.
The narrator changes to Anya, and we know that she isn’t dead, but locked somewhere and surrounded by darkness. We don’t know what has happened to her, but she blames herself. Why? For trusting Rafa? I am not sure if he is responsible for what is happening or maybe he is another crime.
As Anya feels to panic, she starts remembering the past. We then learnt that there is a shocking event that changed this family for ever. The girls’ parents go to Italy for a week, so they get their grandparents to stay with them. Anya is not happy as she feels they are old enough to be on their own. Anya is eighteen, Kate has finished her degree, and Emily is thirteen. Their mother won’t budge, and their parents come to stay with the girl. Anya thought that without her parents around Steve, her boyfriend, could spend the night with her, but there is no way she can sneak him in now. Yet, Kate proves to be very resourceful, and aware of her grandfather’s allergy to cats, she dutifully rubs their cat on the pillow where he sleeps. The poor man has a terrible allergic attack, and three days before her parents return home, she convinces her grandparents to go home as her grandpa is quite poorly.
Anya is happy as she gets her way and Steve can come over. Then on Saturday Kate announces that Andrew, her boyfriend from university, is coming and she needs to pick him up from the station. The problem is that Emily needs to be taken to the girl scouts, and Kate and Anya argue. Anya wants to go partying with Steve, and Kate has plans with Andrew. In the end, after much arguing, Anya agrees to drive Emily to the girl scouts’ meeting. She wants to take their parents’ car, but Kate is embarrassed to appear with the old car, so Anya also caves in and agrees to take the old banger.
Then comes a shocking, distressing chapter. As Anya drives Emily to the girls’ scouts, the car engine is on fire, so Anya stops. The problem comes when Emily can unbuckle her seat belt, and since it was one of those seat belts, it doesn’t stretch, so that Emily could slide from its contraints. She is really trapped and the car is feeling with smoke. Anya is desperate and Emily is scared as the buckle won’t budge. Seeing that the flames have stopped, Anya decides to call for her on a nearby farm. She needs something to cut the belt, but when she returns with help, the car is totally charred, and Emily is dead. That was such a tragic moment, which brought tears to my eye. Poor, poor Emily. I had the hunch she was dead as at present time Kate never tried to contact her.
This is the turning point in this family’s life. Kate keeps sobbing and blaming herself. When their parents return, their mother goes crazy with grief, blaming the grandparents for leaving the girls alone. She is beyond reason and keeps isolated and in bed. She has no desire to live, and things with her husband go from bad to worse. The girls are not left indifferent; Kate refuses to return to London where she hoped to get a job. So she stays looking after her mother. Andrew is history, and even though she likes him and he likes her, things haven’t been the same for them as the poor young man didn’t know how to treat her after the tragedy. Shortly after the break-up she runs into Rob, and they start dating, but it appears that he is second best, because it is clear that Kate wanted Andrew. As for Anya, Kate forces to go to university but Anya doesn’t last long, and her relationship with Steve is also over. And then one day their mother ups and leaves. What a tragedy!! I feel so sorry for this family and the way they have been ruined after the tragedy of losing Emily.
I now understand so many things. I can understand how Kate is so hysterical and has this obsession about her son getting hurt or worse. I imagine that Anya’s restlessness and refusal to settle down is her way to react to what happened to her little sister. I think being with her family reminds her painfully of what they lost, and I think that is why she is always on the move. She needs to escape from memories and herself. And what to say about the girls’ parents!!! Alison Manning is thousands of miles from her two daughters, and it is obvious she has a drinking problem. Apparently, she has found some comfort not just in drink, but in the church she belongs. And David Manning is far from the vigorous man he used to be, and he has hooked up with a woman that bosses him and is so different from Alison. At least, that is the impression we get from Kate’s reflections and her conversation with the woman on the phone.
The book is more interesting than I expected. I wonder what has really happened to Anya and whether she will be rescued safe and sound. I imagine that this family hasn’t talked properly since Emily died, and with all probability the four of them haven’t been together since Alison Manning left for America. I hope that Anya’s moment of need will be the reason for the family to be together again. Things will never be the same again, and Emily’s tragedy will never be forgotten, but maybe they can start to heal and count the blessings they still have.