Kirsty's Reviews > Helpless

Helpless by Barbara Gowdy
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Jun 18, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites
Read in January, 2010

Wow. Gowdy sure knows how to tell a gripping story.

The book tells the story of Celia, a single mother, whose daughter Rachel is 9 years old and exceptionally beautiful. When Rachel goes missing during a blackout, Celia desperately clings to her intuition that Rachel is still alive... meanwhile, the kidnapper watches the media coverage with interest, whilst keeping Rachel in his recently-renovated basement.

The book had me hooked from page one. The story is told from many different perspectives - Rachel, Celia, the kidnapper, his girlfriend and the family friend. Each perspective gives us more of an insight into the devastation caused by the kidnapper's actions. The book addresses the issues of mental instability - the kidnapper's reasons for his actions are not all they seem, the kidnapper's girlfriend disagrees with what he's done, but goes along with it for reasons of her own. The characters are well built, especially the kidnapper and his girlfriend. I also liked the characterisation of Rachel - I felt quite attached to her throughout the book and I thought that her emotions were very well written. The bond between Celia and Rachel is also well explored and whilst Celia held it together quite well, it was easy to interpret the desperation she was feeling. There are many moral issues raised in the book and they have been handled with care and compassion. It wasn't an easy read because of the subject matter and at times it felt quite uncomfortable, yet I'm glad I read it.

I felt compelled to keep reading and read the second half of the book in one sitting. I liked the ending, however I wanted to know more and felt that it could have done with an extra couple of chapters. That said, it doesn't take away from how well written this book is and I would definitely recommend it.
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12/30/2009 page 14
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