Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 3 March 2015
Format: Paperback, 352 pgs
"How well do you really know your family?"
This caption on the cover is what drawn me to this book from the start. A story of suspense and loss, The Daughter isn't an easy read to begin with, especially for the parents. How would you react should your child is missing? And how would you feel should you think your child is keeping secrets from you?
Jenny Malcolm is a family doctor and has three teenage children. Her husband is a successful neurosurgeon and to anyone it seems her life is ideal and complete. Unfortunately, that perfect image is shattered after the missing of their fifteen-year-old youngest child, Naomi. Naomi had told Jenny that she would be going out for a late meal with her friends after their school play but she never returns home.
Told from Jenny's POV, readers follow her frightening journey of missing and searching for Naomi through flashbacks and a year after that fateful night. Her flashbacks tell us more about her profession as a doctor; her relationship with her family members, and how she felt Naomi's change before of her disappearance. Apparently she didn't understand much about Naomi; and she would wave it off as being adolescence whenever Naomi keeps an emotional distance from her.
Naomi's good friend, Nikita, claims Naomi was seen with an older guy at their school play but she isn't sure of his identity as she only caught a glimpse of him at the back stage once. There are some scribblings on Naomi's diary but Jenny couldn't decipher them, as she had used alphabetical codes as an identification of the persons she was referring to. Perhaps Naomi has a secret boyfriend? Or is it a vengeful plan by an ex-patient's family? After all, Jenny had failed to diagnose their daughter's illness in a timely manner due to her misconceptions. Or there is something more than meets the eye? Endless possibilities and doubts make her question about herself being a mother.
Reading The Daughter has allowed me to ponder about many topics; such as the role of a busy working mother, letting go of the children (how to balance and how much is too much?), and of course the biggest issue - How well do you know your family? Do you really know what they want? Jenny's thoughts and her emotional self have inevitably made me think about things. I think these issues have taken much of my attention here in this story, though the mystery itself is intriguing, too. As for the ending... I suppose it has to depend on the reader how he or she interprets it.