One night before her last starring role in the high school production of West Side Story, 17-year-old Naomi disappeared. Sound asleep on the couch waiting for her daughter to come home from the theater and its after-party, Jenny didn’t discover the disappearance until the next morning.
Frantic, Jenny and her husband, Ted, call the police, and so begins a largely unsuccessful search to find out what happened to her. Naomi’s mother and father, both successful doctors, were loving parents to her and her twin brothers. Although extremely busy, they worked hard to be with their children. Certainly there would be no reason for Naomi to run away. Someone had to have taken her.
Flashing back and forth between the agonizing weeks while the search was active and the year after the disappearance, the story is told from Jenny’s perspective. The novel reveals clues that Jenny’s assumption of family happiness was razor thin. Though a year has gone by, Jenny cannot accept the fact that Naomi might be dead.
The tragedy, along with what was beneath the surface of the “normal” happy family, tears everyone in it apart. But Jenny can’t let go. Working with a missing person’s officer assigned to the case, she teases out clues that might point to what happened that night. This suspenseful novel will have you turning the pages, but the psychological reflection about what is real and true will have you thinking about the nature of what you really know.
The Daughter by Jane Shemilt. William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2015.