Nancy Thompson's Reviews > The Last Child

The Last Child by John Hart
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 02, 2012

it was amazing
Read from July 25 to 29, 2012

Having recently read John Hart’s Down River, winner of the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel, I knew I’d probably love The Last Child, for which he won the 2010 Edgar Award. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a rare thing for me to become so engrossed in a novel that I put everything else aside. Yet that’s what I did with The Last Child. I was obsessed with the story and the characters. A slow reader, I suffered from three days of vision-related headaches just to finish it, it was that good, that compelling. I simply wouldn’t put it down.

Now, that’s not to say it’s a perfect book. There were a few things that bugged me a bit. While one reviewer commented on the thirteen-year-old protagonist’s believability, I didn’t find it a problem at all, for two reasons mostly. One, he was one half of a set of twins, and twins are notoriously tied together in ways most people could never understand. If one goes missing, the other feels incomplete and would be driven to find the other no matter what. And two, children who suffer abuse and loss grow up remarkably fast, taking on a more serious wisdom, a wisdom children of more functional homes would not. So I totally understood the motivation and actions of Johnny Merrimon following the disappearance of his twin sister.

I did, however, have an issue with Johnny’s mother, Katherine. After her husband also disappears, she falls victim to drug and alcohol dependency, so much so that she neglects Johnny. I think a mother who had lost not only her husband, but also one of her two children, would hold onto that remaining child with all her might and never let go. Yet Katherine allows herself to be used and manipulated by a former boyfriend, a rich and powerful man who inflicts sadistic control over Katherine. I was left wondering if she had anyone in her life, besides Johnny, who cared enough to intervene. I also wondered how she could allow herself to become so weak. The only other issue I had with this story were all the red herrings. They made me think the story was about something completely different than it was in the end. Therefore, trying to guess who-dunnit was impossible because you don’t find out what exactly was done until the end. It was truly unforeseeable.

But none of these things kept me from loving this book. While the plot was complicated and involved, the writing kept me going at every turn. Hart has a talent for words like none other I’ve ever read in this genre and most any other. He delves deep into the character’s emotions, almost too deeply, in fact, getting a tad melodramatic at times. Nevertheless, I loved being steeped so completely in the mental state of all those involved in the case of Johnny’s missing sister. Most interesting was the effect the case had on the lead investigator, Detective Clyde Hunt and his family, or what remained of it following Hunt’s involvement and utter obsession with the missing girl, Katherine, and Johnny.

The Last Child deals with the disturbing issues of missing and exploited children, including sexual abuse and murder. It’s not an easy read in any shape or form, but it is beautiful and haunting, and most of all, frightening. You’ll hold your children tight and swear never to let them out of your sight ever again. The story aside, if you enjoy beautiful writing, then you will love this book for no other reason than that. As an author myself, I worship Hart’s ability to compose words and sentences so eloquently. I am a fan for life and look forward to reading all of John Hart’s other novels.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Last Child.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/27/2012 page 215
show 1 hidden update…

No comments have been added yet.