Friday, 14 June 2019

The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope


She becomes aware of the silence at the other end of the line.  A prickling sensation crawls up her arms.  Her heart speeds up.  "Found who?" she asks, slowly, carefully, deliberately.  "They found Daniel."

Six years ago

Meghan waits at the school gates for her six-year-old-son, Daniel.  As the playground empties, panic bubbles inside her.  Daniel is nowhere to be found.  Her darling son is missing.

Six years later

After years of sleepless nights and endless days of missing her son, Meghan finally gets the call she has been dreaming about.  Daniel has walked into a police station in a remote town just a few miles away.

Meghan is overjoyed - her son is finally coming home.  She has kept Daniel's room, with his cookie monster poster on the wall and a stack of lego under the bed, in perfect shape to welcome him back.  But when he returns, there is something different about Daniel...

According to the police, Daniel was kidnapped by his father.  After his dad died in a fire, Daniel was finally able to escape.  Desperate to find out the truth, Meghan tried to talk to her little boy - but he barely answers hers questions.  Longing to help him heal, Meghan tries everything - his favourite chocolate milkshake, a reunion with his best friend, a present for every birthday missed - but still, Daniel is distant.

And as they struggle to connect, Meghan begins to suspect that there is more to the story.  Soon, she fears that her son is hiding a secret. A secret that could destroy her family.

Author: Nicole Trope
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 28 June 2019

My Review

This was an incredible, sometimes distressing, emotional roller-coaster of a book and it's going on my list of favourite reads of the year.  I had tears streaming down my cheeks as I flipped the book closed and it's not often a book effects me in that way.

The Boy in the Photo: An absolutely gripping and emotional page turnerWe start the story as Meghan goes to collect her 6 year old son, Daniel from school, only to learn that his father has already collected him.  A father that she has recently divorced.  He's a violent bully of a man and will stop at nothing to exact his revenge for the hurt she has caused him. Daniel has disappeared.  Personally, this is every woman's worst nightmare.

Meghan is torn apart and even a desperate search for her son reveals nothing.  She will never give in but eventually she has to start to move on with her life however Daniel is never forgotten and even when Meghan re-marries and they move to a new family home, Daniel's room is still there, ready and waiting for his return.

As the years go on Meghan has to accept that she may never see her son again and this line really effected me: She hopes that her son is no longer missing her even though she misses him every single day. 

One day, Daniel just walks into a police station and tells them who he is.  A tragic accident has left him with no one and finally he is re-united with this mother. The trauma for this family is not yet over and instead they have a whole new set of challenges to face.

This books flips from the the years of searching to the present day and seamlessly the story is told from both Meghan's side and her missing son's Daniels.  After being separated from his mother for half of his life they are finally reunited but Daniel is no longer the happy, cheeky six year old that she lost but a sullen twelve year old boy that is distant and broken.  He is angry.  Angry at her for giving him away,  Angry at her for not looking for him and angry at her for starting a new life without him.

One day at a time is the only way that Meghan can start to deal with Daniel.  There are moments where his disturbing behaviour leads her to almost believe that he isn't in fact her son.  She thought it would be easy but the truth is, it is much harder then she ever imagined. She has to learn to get to know the stranger that she has brought home and welcomed into her house.  Underneath that is the story that Daniel may not appear as he seems and he could be capable of inflicting harm on both Meghan and his new family.

I don't want to give the plot away but the twists at the end are brilliant.  They are so cleverly woven in so that I ,as the reader, didn't even noticing what was occurring before boom, I was blown away. I never once saw the ending coming.  It made me gasp at points as people that you believed were helping, turned out not to be all that they seemed.  There were points near the end that I physically put the book down as I was unable to process the information and I so desperately needed the happy ever after. Not just for Meghan but for Daniel to.

I really can't say enough great things about this book.  It is a must read and I have to confess that I have already ordered more of this authors previous work.

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