You've seen Manhunt, now read this powerful and personal account from Milly Dowler's sister Gemma...
'My name is Gemma Dowler. On 21 March 2002, a serial killer named Levi Bellfield stole my sister and sent our family to hell...'
In my sister Milly, Gemma Dowler recounts the terrible day of Milly's disappearance, the suspicions that fell on the family, the torture of encountering the murderer in court, the fatal errors made by the police, how it very nearly destroyed her family and how love and hope helped the family survive.
Everyone thinks they know the story of Milly Dowler, but only one person knows the true pain of having lost a sister, and how a family can rediscover hope to survive.
Author: Gemma Dowler
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Wow, it's very hard to find the words to describe exactly how this book made me feel. By the end I was an emotional wreck. It's a rare book that can leave me sobbing into soggy tissues at 1 am in the morning but sobbing my heart out I was. I could barely read the end due to the constant misting up of my eyes.
Most people will know the story of the teenager Millie Dowler who was tragically murdered 17 years ago. What I failed to know was that the police didn't take the original reports of her missing as serious. They believed that Millie was a teenage runaway. The police made one terrible mistake after another, add to that the phone hacking scandal and this reads more like a work of fiction then anything that could happen in real life. But happen it did.
The book starts on a lovely note describing the carefree teenage Millie. The happy all singing, all dancing family unit but then Millie disappears and their world is torn apart.
The book gets harder and harder to read as we go through endless weeks of waiting, endless weeks of hoping until the grim discovery. This was when the tears really started to flow. The harrowing court case just left me filled with horror.
I was an emotional wreck by the end of the book and I really do not know how any family can go through the pain they have and survive. Somehow they have found the strength to battle on but as you can imagine they are still very broken. My guess is they will never fully heal.
I don't read a lot of non-fiction but this is a must read book. Emotionally it has touched me down to my furthest depths and it has stayed with me long after I have finished reading.