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The Nowhere Child


The Nowhere Child

One day, on a break between classes she teaches at an Australian university, Kimberly Leamy’s rare quiet time is interrupted by a man who sits, uninvited, at her table. If that’s not off-putting enough, what he came to tell her absolutely rocks her world. He says his name is Stuart Went, and he believes that Kim is actually his sister, Sammy, who was abducted from their Kentucky home 28 years ago. Stuart’s proof is pretty convincing, too. Unfortunately, Kim can’t confront her mother, as she died recently. So, in order to figure out what really happened, she accompanies Stuart to Kentucky. And together, they travel back 28 years.

Kim’s American family, if that’s what they truly are, has a complicated history. At the time Sammy disappeared, the Wents lived in Manson, a smallish town. Emma, the oldest sister, got out of there as soon as she could, wanting nothing to do with Manson and its secrets, especially once her sister went missing. Emma buried her sister’s memory, even going so far as to make a grave for her. Stuart never gave up, though. He married a sweet woman who understood his obsession with finding his lost sister. But in the intervening years, Molly and Jack Went --- mom and dad --- split. Even before Sammy vanished, Molly’s love for her youngest child had seemed to wane. Instead, she preferred the company of people at a local church, one that worships in odd ways, to put it kindly. Molly devoted herself to the Church of the Light Within, a baffling choice that the rest of the family didn’t quite get.

"Author Christian White is the new guy on the literary scene. THE NOWHERE CHILD is his debut. And it’s a knockout. He’s going to be one to watch."

No one saw what happened the day that Sammy was taken. And authorities were convinced that she indeed had been kidnapped and hadn’t just wandered off. How far could a two-year-old get anyway? An intensive search ensued, involving most of the town’s citizens. A few clues surfaced, but none led to the discovery of the little girl. After a while, the trail grew cold, time passed and people moved on. Now she’s back, and not everyone in Manson is happy about it.

Chapters alternate between Now and Then, telling the bizarre story of what happened to Sammy and how everyone handled her absence. Stuart worried that bad things were being done to her, which is why he kept pushing to find her. Emma also worried, but she believed Sammy was better off dead than any of the alternatives she imagined. Molly fell apart, but this was likely due to unrelated events. Jack hit bottom, then finally faced who he was. Their lives were forever changed. Could it possibly be in a good way? When Sammy returns home, the entire episode reaches a boiling point. The past explodes into the present, painfully closing off bad memories and leaving the town of Manson reeling.

When we hear the news of a child gone missing, it is always difficult not to let our minds go to the dark side, to envision scenarios that are not particularly pretty. But what if the child had been abducted for honorable reasons instead of bad ones? Of course, what could justify stealing a toddler from her parents? THE NOWHERE CHILD might have an answer. Kim Leamy and Sammy Went --- the same person? And none the worse for it? So what was the reason this happened? Trust me, you’ll want to know. You simply have to read this book.

Author Christian White is the new guy on the literary scene. THE NOWHERE CHILD is his debut. And it’s a knockout. He’s going to be one to watch.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 1, 2019

The Nowhere Child
by Christian White