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The Child Finder – Book Review

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The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Published by: Harper Collins
Published on: September 5, 2017
Series: Naomi Cottle #1
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
HB&W Rating: 4 Stars
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Naomi Cottle has a talent for finding missing children with a sixth sense born of a past she cannot remember.  It’s been three years since the disappearance of Madison Culver, and the odds are not in her favor.  Her parents’ last hope remains with Naomi, as she strategically works her way through the mountainous forest of Oregon to bring Madison home, dead or alive.

Part of the tug of her forgotten past was the danger of those who acted nice.

Known as The Child Finder to authorities and to those parents of missing children, Naomi has a knack for finding missing children because she too was a missing child.  Unable to reconstruct her memories from before the night she escaped her captor, her mind has protected her from the pain of the past.  But the past won’t stay buried for long, as the deeper Naomi digs into Madison’s case, the more fragments of memory float to the surface of her mind.

All she knew was that evil — like the Devil’s District — was alchemy built on opportunity.

The Child Finder is my first book by author Rene Denfeld, and it won’t be my last.  This book is classified as a thriller, which I would would disagree with only because the pacing didn’t have my heart racing like thrillers do typically.  But classification aside, this book delves into the world of child abduction and abuse, giving clear insight to the multitude of feelings that survivors of abuse experience, such as feeling both love for and fear of their captor and how abuse begets abuse.  I also found the various points of view of those in Naomi’s life to be very poignant as well for their portrayal of what loving a survivor looks like.  The psychological elements of this story are what give it its strength.

The writing style is emotionally provocative, and reads almost musically.  While sexual abuse is the central theme, Denfeld uses metaphor to tell the story more subtly, which only serves to make the story that much more powerful.

If I was going to nag at anything, I would nag at the second plot line of this book: the autistic black mother whose baby went missing.  I love the insight provided with this plot line, but I really feel like it could have been its own stand-alone story.  The way it was added into this story made it feel almost like an aside to me, which detracted from the point Denfeld was making with it.  I think she could have done a beautiful job advocating for mental health awareness and how issues of race can effect it by giving this plot line its own book.

He said black children don’t get diagnosed autistic.  They just get diagnosed bad.

But that aside, this was a beautiful, poignant, and thought-provoking book, perfect for book club discussions if that’s your thing.  I look forward to the next installment in the series.

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