This book raised quite a few questions for me. On one level it is a straight forward thriller about Eliza Benedict who is abducted at age 15 and forms a strange bond with her kidnapper. The basic plot line is captivating enough and Lippman’s characters are well developed and intriguing enough to hold the reader’s attention.
What is more intriguing, though, about this novel, is that it about so much more than an abduction. What is really explores is how people deal with their pasts, and what they choose to make of themselves in light of the experiences that they endure. Eliza Benedict had, in many ways, run away from what happened to her, tried to avoid the stigma that came with being a survivor when all the other victims were killed. She was so successful in recreating herself that she really though that she had escaped her past. Where the novel becomes interesting is when her past, in the form of her abductor on death row, catches up with her and confronts her, forcing her to come to terms with the central role that this kidnapping played in her life and in who she is now.
I found Eliza Benedict to be a surprisingly staunch character. On the outside she seems meek and mild, allowing her husband to speak for her and dictate their lives. But, beneath the meekness she is a tower of strength and this shows itself most in her final confrontation toward the end of the book – I won’t say more as it will spoil the story for you!
I loved the way that Eliza’s moral compass so clearly steered her actions – the Washington Post calls her “decent”. I loved the way she devoted herself to her family, that she refused to be swayed by what other people thought, that she was able to reconstruct herself in the face of this intense adversity. And I loved the gumption of Eliza’s daughter, the tenderness of her son and the unusualness of her parents.
I will definitely be looking for other Lippman books to read!