My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.
But what really happened that fateful afternoon?
Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?
The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
This story is set in Bristol and is themed around the abduction of an 8 year old boy - Ben Finch, we read the story from a year ago. Throughout the story it is told from two perspectives, which change each chapter Ben's mother and D.I James Clemo. Through these perspectives we learn a lot about both characters their feelings on the abduction, how it is effecting them but also we see other characters thoughts through it.
Rachel, Ben's mother is struggling emotionally from the divorce of her husband surgeon, Paul Finch. Every Sunday Ben and his mother walk their dog Skittle through the woods, Ben is desperate for some more freedom, even if it is just to walk ahead of her with Skittle. Rachel is wary, always has been and thinks she should let go a bit and this Sunday in particular she grants him the freedom he wants so much. Ben skips ahead with Skittle and says he will meet her in the park. When Rachel gets to the park she can see the swing swinging, she thinks Ben maybe playing with her but she later discovers he isn't anywhere to be seen.
Throughout the book you go through lots of emotions, you don't know what has happened to Ben and everyone becomes a suspect to you, there are small seeds that are planted in your head and you decide to follow the route, only to discover you were wrong and your attention changes to someone else. With the impact of the internet and social media, you see what an impact this can have on a case and how easily you can get drawn into it and allow others to influence you. It is easy to see what damage it can cause and how it can change the public perspection on something.
Sometimes I felt things were being exposed about the family that may not have been necessary and have any relevance on the case, however it became clear why these were important and how it helped develop the whole picture of the case and the characters.
I enjoyed the mixing up in the way the story is told, we read emails, transcripts from DI Clemo's psychologist, internet blog posts and online newspaper extracts. This made the story more real for me I think and emphasised the importance of the media in a case like this. I also enjoyed the introduction to each chapter (A different day) this began with a quote, an extract from an article or a website post on missing children.
I thought this was a brilliant 'who dun it', which had me guessing right up until the end. It really pulled me in as a reader and although it is 465 pages long, it is a quick read. Most of the time stories that are this long I can loose interest in or feel intimidated by the size of them. This I managed to read in a couple of days, it is quite possible to read in one or two sittings though. This is very face paced, the characters are developed brilliantly and they are believable.
This is an outstanding debut novel for Macmillan and I look forward to reading more from her. If you haven't read this book and are wanting a psychological thriller, this is a must to pick up. It is thought provoking and you will want to talk about it with everyone.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.
Guest Post - Being a Debut Author by Gilly Macmillan
Being a debut author in no way resembles what I thought it would be! As so many writers have no doubt said before, the launch from being a solitary person tapping away at your computer to being an actual proper author is a dramatic and unexpected one.
I think that’s partly because however much you might dream about it and read about it before it happens to you, nobody else has your exact experience so they can’t describe what it will be like for you. Every new author will follow their own route to publication, and along the way will gain their own team of agent, publisher, editor and other folks who work on all the different aspects of the book, from cover design to copyediting, to marketing and publicity.
Meeting and working with that group of people has been a huge thrill for me. Once my book deal was clinched, they arrived in my life all of a sudden and with boundless enthusiasm, when I was still reeling from the amazing fact of having found a publisher who wanted my book at all (it took me months to get over that shock). After years in the wilderness there’s nothing like that feeling of being supported by a team of professional people, all of whom want your book to succeed. It’s a very exciting and also sometimes a very daunting prospect!
It brings challenges too. Almost overnight, you have to interact professionally with many new people, learn how to operate as self-employed, rise to all the demands and expectations of your publisher and agent in the UK, and in the case of Burnt Paper Sky there were foreign publishers to meet and work with too. You have many new experiences. I’d never used social media before, or done an author event and while I loved both, it was also a hugely steep learning curve. And while all of that is going on, you must write your second book to a deadline. You have to be prepared to work very hard to keep everything going.
But having said that, I wouldn’t swap any of it for the world. I’ve met incredible and inspiring people, I’ve learned so much and I’ve had brilliant new experiences. Finding a fabulous book community online – bloggers, writers and readers – has been one of those, and getting a copy of your book in your hands for the very first time is not something I’ll ever forget.
I’ve found the whole experience in turns amazing, exhilarating and terrifying and I wouldn’t swap it for the world. I love it. But my favourite bit? That’s still just me at my desk, putting words down on the page.
I would like to thank Gilly for stopping by at The Book Corner today. To buy a copy of this stunning debut, which you will not stop hearing about click here