Title: While My Eyes Were Closed
Author: Linda Green
Release Date: May 2016
My Rating: 8/10 Solid
One, two, three . . . Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa’s family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn’t a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa’s little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?
When I read the synopsis for this book, I was really just expecting another ‘missing child’ book. I’ve read a few of them recently, some good, some not so good, but as a whole, it’s a trope I quite enjoy. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this book wasn’t what I expected at all. Yes, it’s a ‘missing child’ book, but it’s not really a thriller, and it’s certainly not a ‘whodunit’.
While My Eyes Were Closed is written in dual narrative, with chapters alternating between the mother and the ‘kidnapper’. This means we immediately know who has taken Ella, it’s no secret and there’s only a slight bit of mystery in the first chapter before we are blatantly told who it is. I think that’s what makes this book so good. The suspense isn’t in who did it, or even why they did it, it’s more an exploration of the difficulties of loneliness, grief and mental illness. The mystery and suspense comes in why the ‘kidnapper’ is as she is, and what happened to make her so convinced that taking Ella was the right thing. Despite knowing her wrongs, as a reader it is very difficult not to sympathise with her. I’ve never found myself feeling sorry for a ‘villain’. I’m sorry this is so vague, I’m trying my best not to give anything away.
It didn’t help that I wasn’t a massive fan of Ella’s mother, but I think that’s done on purpose. Essentially, Ella is taken because the ‘kidnapper’ feels she isn’t being cared for properly. While of course she is, there are some things she does as a mother that I don’t agree with, or that annoy me slightly. Then again, I’m not a mother, so how could I ever judge. This all adds to the sympathy we feel for the ‘kidnapper’. She almost convinces the reader that she has actually done the right thing.
My only criticism, is the ending. Although I didn’t dislike it, I thought it was rather abrupt. There could have easily been another couple of chapters to round things off, but I suppose this way it does leave us wondering. I was expecting a little bit more, and would love to know what happens next. Not in a sequel type way, even just another paragraph would be nice, but I’m sure the author has her reason for not doing this.
Don’t expect this to be a conventional ‘missing child’ thriller. It’s really not. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys any kind of literary fiction, rather than just thriller fans. I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to, and really look forward to whatever Linda Green comes up with next.