IMAGINING MOLLY by Sharyn Gale

IMAGINING MOLLY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this novel, a mother desperately tries to find her abducted child—while receiving telepathic messages.

Claire Shore’s 6-year-old daughter, Molly, has been tormented by the same nightmare for weeks, accompanied by stomachaches, apparently the result of stress. Claire worries that this is something more than a fleeting bout of youthful anxiety, and her own mother recommends she seek the help of a professional therapist. Claire takes Molly shopping for a new outfit to wear to a friend’s birthday party and then suddenly realizes Molly’s vanished and is overcome by a wave of panic. Unable to find her, she calls her husband, Artie, and the police, and a frantic search begins. Claire remembers that an unfamiliar woman brashly intruded into her conversation with Molly, and she turns out to be a prostitute from Texas and the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Molly is whisked away by her captors, renamed Daisy, brutally beaten and mistreated, the victim of an organized kidnapping racket. Claire believes her daughter is sending her telepathic messages, and she reveals that her own sister, Faye, also experienced nightmares as a child that were better understood as visions. As the days and then weeks and months go by, the prospects for rescuing Molly seem increasingly bleak, and only a psychic who claims to have dreams about the child still believes she remains alive. The book shifts back and forth between two parallel stories—the desperate search for Molly spearheaded by her parents and the girl’s own fearful trials.

Gale (Goddess Gilda, 2013) artfully conjures taut suspense, keeping the plot moving at a brisk pace without projecting the ultimate outcome of the tale. Some of the details of Molly’s ordeal are unsettlingly grim, but the author doesn’t pummel her readers with macabre violence, though some sections are, nonetheless, challenging to bear. Claire’s marriage begins to suffer early on, and her guilt over Molly’s disappearance is pulverizing, a subplot developed with impressive sensitivity by Gale. In prose that sometimes approaches poetic elegance, she captures the deep connection between Molly and her mother and Claire’s refusal, despite spiritual depletion, to relax the vigil for her missing child: “I climbed into bed suddenly exhausted. I crept back into the bathroom and soaked a washcloth under cold water. I rung [sic] it out, folded it in thirds, crawled back in bed and pressed the cold cloth to my forehead. I listened for my daughter.” Gale also skillfully delves into the mind of one of Molly’s captors, a morally misguided woman but not an evil one, looking, however perversely, for a family of her own. The heart of the story, though, is Molly, who memorably perseveres despite her understandable terror and the degradation she weathers. The author uses the child’s telepathy as a sign of her emotional acuteness and the basis of her deep attunement with her mother. Gale has a talent for depicting compassion that survives even the darkest trauma, and Molly’s own resilience is the finest example of that knack. 

A beautifully written and psychologically intelligent thriller. 

Pub Date: May 25th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5449-8284-7
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2017




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