You might have followed the story of the four year-old girl that disappeared from her hotel room in Portugal in 2007. Her parents were eating at a poolside restaurant a few steps from the room. Although they frequently checked on their children, at one point they found their daughter gone, and the mystery has never been solved. Fielding's plot follows the lives of Caroline and Hunter, who take an anniversary trip to a luxury hotel in Mexico. Their baby sitter doesn't show up, and Caroline reluctantly gives in to her husband and leaves five year-old Michelle and two year-old Samantha in their hotel room while the grownups have dinner. Samantha disappears despite frequent checking up on the children, and no one's life is ever the same.
The book alternates chapters that take place during the time of the disappearance and the years leading up to the present, fifteen years later. Caroline never recovers from the loss of her child, and husband and wife eventually divorce. Hunter remarries and starts a new family, leaving Caroline and Michelle to deal with their lives. Michelle is as troubled as Caroline in her own way, and the relationship remains strained.
After fifteen years of following fruitless "Samantha sightings," Caroline receives a phone call from a young woman in Canada who believes she is the missing Samantha. Knowing that it is a mistake, Caroline decides to travel to Canada and find out for sure.
She's Not There is a character driven book that takes us on a journey that is both fascinating and terrifying for any parent who understands the fear of losing a child. The main characters are both flawed and captivating, and the book is typical of Fielding's style. She does a good job with the element of mystery, dropping subtle clues without giving away the end too early. I found that her style has matured through the years and delivers more than fluff reading. I might have to go back and pick up the books I missed.
Publisher - Ballentine Books
Date of Publication - February 23, 2016