by Shari Lapena
*I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist with the request that I read it and write a review. I received no compensation for this review with the exception of a free copy of the book.
Anne and Marco Conti are a young married couple living in Upstate New York. It would appear that they have it all – a beautiful home in the right neighborhood, money to spare, good looks, and a new baby. But of course, things aren’t always what they appear to be.
One fateful night, their babysitter cancels at the last minute. Rather than cancel their plans to attend a dinner party right next door, they decide to leave their six-month old baby at home asleep in her crib. They take the baby monitor with them next door, and diligently go home to check on little Cora every half hour. Even so, when they finally leave their neighbors’ home and return to their own that night, they find their front door ajar, and the crib is empty.
It’s difficult to offer a summary of a psychological thriller like this without giving too much away, but I will say that this story is of the same caliber as Gone Girl and The Girl On the Train. It’s an absolute page turner – totally fucked up, but in a good way. Every time I thought I understood what was really going on, another twist in the story revealed itself.
The premise of the story – parents leaving their child unattended – is timely in this age of hypervigilant parenting, and the current culture of judging and vilifying parents who don’t meet arbitrary standards that seem to grow higher and higher all the time. Of course we all think it’s horrible that any parent would leave a baby alone at home – but how dangerous is it really to leave a baby right next door, taking reasonable precautions like the Contis did (and how many of us have done something at some point that put our children at risk, or at least that we know other parents would disapprove of)? And yet, the worst happens to the Contis – the worst fear that every parent has – their baby is taken.
I admit that I was reluctant to read a story about an abducted baby; I don’t think I have the stomach for a story that features horrible things befalling a baby. The baby in this story, however, plays a pretty minor role, so take heart.
Deliciously twisted. And perfect for a book club discussion.