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The Deep End of the Ocean

(Cappadora Family #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  114,878 ratings  ·  1,209 reviews
Few first novels receive the kind of attention and acclaim showered on this powerful story—a nationwide bestseller, a critical success, and the first title chosen for Oprah's Book Club. Both highly suspenseful and deeply moving, The Deep End of the Ocean imagines every mother's worst nightmare—the disappearance of a child—as it explores a family's struggle to endure, even ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published 1996)
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Lisa I do recommend skipping it. I can't seem to get into it. The mother, main character is hard to connect with. I think that's why I'm having a hard…moreI do recommend skipping it. I can't seem to get into it. The mother, main character is hard to connect with. I think that's why I'm having a hard time. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
SuZanne The author never answers that mystery of who put the shoe on the podium. One possibility is the mother of the wacko who took the boy. Why? As a…moreThe author never answers that mystery of who put the shoe on the podium. One possibility is the mother of the wacko who took the boy. Why? As a mother, she was letting the main character mother know her son was still alive? Not telling us who put the shoe there was a gap in the novel that the author should have filled, in my humble opinion(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Deep End of the Ocean (Cappadora Family #1), Jacquelyn Mitchard
Spoiler Alert
The Deep End of the Ocean is a best-selling novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard, released in 1996. Wisconsin photographer and housewife Beth Cappadora leaves her youngest son, Ben, alone with his older brother for a brief moment in a crowded Chicago hotel lobby, while attending her high school reunion. The older son lets go of Ben's hand and Ben vanishes without a trace. Beth goes into an extended mental breakdown and it is
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-challenge

I'm hesitant to outline the book's plot for fear of giving out too much information. However, since most reviews of the book give away the plot and because the story has also been made into a movie, I'll proceed. Be aware, though, that possible spoilers lie ahead.


Beth Cappadora, excited about her 15-year high school reunion, packs up her three kids (Vincent, 7; Ben, 3; and infant Kerry) and her niece/babysitter and drives from Madison, Wisconsin to the Chicago hotel that's
Aug 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
It's been a while since I first read this but I read it on a trip to visit my mother, finished it at her house and flung it across the room. I left it behind and she read it and called me to berate me for leaving it for her to read! So count this as TWO negative reviews. The climax happens about halfway through the book and then the next 200 or so pages are padding that you end up hating yourself for reading.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars
I usually compare the book to its film, and almost always the book wins. Not this time. NOPE.
I've watched the film tons of times, and I loved it, and I cry every single time. With the book, only a couple of tears. And I adore the characters.
The characters here were unlikable, specially Beth Cappadora, the mother. I didn't like her from the start. As for the rest, I only liked Vincent/Reese a little. I get that all of them were really affected and damaged when tragedy striked, but most
I read this in 1996. That was the time of the Oprah book club and Oprah likes the drama.

I appreciated the story from what I remember. I wanted to like it because Oprah did, but looking back it was an Okay story. It's about a woman who goes through divorce and a life change. It's well done, but not my favorite kind of story.

I haven't read it since, but I saw someone talk about it and I was like, hey, I read that so I put it in my list.

I did own this book, but I got rid of it along the way.
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I actually read this book 15 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. It has stayed with me all these years. I thought it was a great book. Depressing and sad given the subject but very well written and easy to read. I read it very quickly over a couple of days.

Books Ring Mah Bell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants an interesting read
Shelves: fondmemories
This book relies heavily on coincidence, which is usually a sign of bad writing. In this case, however, the coincidence is more of a result of a "what if" question, rather than a "how can I loop this all together" scenario. I think its an interesting idea, what happens when the little boy is found, but the bad guys feel like the good guys and the good guys don't feel like anything?
One thing that struck me about this book was how self-centered the main character was. I can't comprehend what she
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kid is found and he's fine. That's not a spoiler; you can read it on the jacket. However, I had to skip to the second half to see for myself, and I read in other reviews that other people did, too. I really didn't want to be reading a book about a child being kidnapped and killed or abused. And that's not what it was at all, so rest assured.

The first half of the book is about what happens with a family when their middle child, a three-year-old, is kidnapped. The second half is about what
Aug 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is quite possibly one of the worst books I have ever read. It was artistically abysmal and I would not have finished it if it weren't for the library book club I read it for. The characters (particularly the parents) are thin and unlikeable characters. The plot left unpleasantly dangling threads in several places where the author would take us to a location or revelation and then stop talking about it - including a pointless affair that did not contribute to the overall plot in any way. It ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents, people who have time for a page turner
I've read and reread this book a thousand times over. I get lost in the sorrow I feel for this family. Everytime I read this story I feel differently about the choices this family makes. I don't have children so it is hard to imagine the heart break of having one kidnapped. I think it is impossible to not get attached to these characters.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Wes’ book review: Deep End of the Ocean. 2.5 stars. Meh, what a mixed bag. This book was a great idea that could have been executed much better by another writer with more experience in my opinion. (This was the author’s debut novel and I think it showed.) While it was a quick page turner, one is left feeling a little cheated by what could have been an absolutely stunning novel in the hands of someone with more control over their craft.

1. Great idea and initial plot development. (A 3 year
Lina Hamad
Nov 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
To be honest, I put this book down so many times in the past. I just couldn't go through with it. It somehow didn't seem to capture my interest. I choose this book because I'm a big fan of emotion evoking books, I just love them. However, as I kept on reading, Beth seemed to actually annoy me rather than gain my sympathy. Beth was so self centered and self absorbed that she couldn't see that anyone else was suffering beside her. I decided that I really didn't like her when she was so cold toward ...more
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of a family in the wake of a tragedy. When Ben, a three year old boy, disappears in a crowded hotel lobby, his family begins to slowly come apart. Nine years later, the boy is miraculously found and restored to the family, safe and unhurt. Unfortunately, it is not the happy homecoming everyone wanted. Ben does not remember his birth family. To him, the Cappadoras are rank strangers he is forced to live with while the father who raised him lives right down the street. The pain of all ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: death, family, psychology
The Deep End of the Ocean is one of the closest books out there to capturing the harrowing story of a child's disappearance into thin air, but this book doesn't tell the story of the child. It focuses on the child's family, their grief and confusion and guilt, and ultimately their journey through the process.
What a depressing book! I could actually say I have a lot in common with this book being
#1 a bereaved parent (although my child died, he did not disappear)
#2 being an adopted child who found and contacted the birth family as an adult and made an effort to fit into that family and have two families. I've been a quasi member of the birth family for years now, very quasi.
Three year old Ben, youngest member of a large Italian family from his father's side and Irish family from his mother's side,
RSD/CRPS is a painful and horribly-bizarre disorder. Those effected by it, such as myself, face numerous sensory challenges - everything from misfiring of nerves to audible filter failures to muscle atrophy and more.... And it is highly amplified via stress; good stressors or bad, the outcome can be equally debilitating.

When reading a book with extreme palatable suspense or adrenalin-evoking action or content, I have to decide whether or not such a book (the story, characters, potential for
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I saw the movie, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, years ago and always had in the back of my mind that I'd like to read the book. I'm glad I did. Jacquelyn Mitchard did a masterful job writing this book. The characters are rich, complex and fully developed. The plot has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. And not everything gets explained or tied up in a neat bow - much like life.

The first two sections of the story are told from a single point of view and the rest of the book alternates
Misha  Mathew
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (October 1, 1999)
Language: English
My Rating - 5

This book for me was beautiful and scary. Imagine losing your child..the horror of it! It can ruin happy families apart, it can ruin marriages..This is what the book is about ,how the disappearance of a child completely changes the family dynamics and the lasting psychological impact of it.This one is quite a tearjerker. I myself wept quite a bit while reading it. However I have to say I found
Deborah Ideiosepius
Aug 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Anyone who genuinely enjoys sickly sweet, badly written pap.
Well, obviously I did not like it.

The abstract is that a three year old boy child vanishes, while in the care of his mother and watched by his seven year old brother. Family torn apart, police search, ect ect. Nine years later the boy is found by accident. This is a scenario that should make for a great book, how could all those dynamic elements go wrong?

Here’s how;

The literary style is very poor; so much so that the subject matter is obscured by the sickly sentimental and poorly edited
Natasha Findlay
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
THE DEEP END of the OCEAN by Jacquelyn Mitchard

I decided to read this book because it was recommended by my mum as i didn't know what to read for my book reports.
The category i chose for this book is 'A book with a female main character'. This was interesting because the female main character was the mother of Ben the boy who went missing in this book and it showed us the pain she had for losing her son and how her family got torn apart.
My favourite quote from the book is "Where's Ben" because
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who like to kill baby seals
Recommended to Tandie by: Oprah made me do it
I'm traumatized. Child gets kidnapped. Family completely falls apart & remaining kids are neglected. Everyone is messed up and struggling to live day by day. Fast forward a bunch of years. Older kidnapped kid is found & taken from his not-really family. He doesn't fit in with his real family and everyone is tragically messed up. They work a few things out, but everyone is emotionally scarred and yes, messed up for life.

What the heck? Oprah likes her book club to be super duper sad. All
Lady Di
Apr 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Oprah's Book Club: A mother's 3 year old son was kidnapped while her back was turned checking into a hotel. I related most with the brother that didn't watch his brother like the mother asked. This was the subplot that held the book together. The mother recognizes her lost son 9 years later mowing lawns. He was innocent in the whole thing and it was sad for him to have two families and to feel torn between having to choose between them.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was like solving a 50 piece jigsaw puzzle, gathering all the pieces together. It was really hard to wrap my head around all the characters and the central story. However to my surprise, I really enjoyed the novel, it was provocative about a mother losing her absent minded son. Vincent her older son left a memorable impression on me as well, although he was ignored by Beth (his mother) who was only concerned about Ben and his whereabouts. Three three characters saved this book average ...more
May 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book is about a kidnapping. It is told from the mother's point of view and the kidnapped child's brother. The characters really weren't that developed (and for me to notice that is saying something). The plot was predictable and I didn't even like the parents in the story, so I wasn't rooting for them. I only finished the book because I was hoping that something great would happen. It didn't.
Vivek Tejuja
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always been a fan of the books Oprah has recommended on her book club. It all began in 2001 I think and since then I have read some of the old ones recommended by her and some of the old ones. So I have decided to read all the books chosen by her – one after the other. What better place to start than the very beginning, isn’t it?

The beginning came in the form of a dark, depressing and quite a hopeful book called, “The Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacquelyn Mitchard. When you read it, you
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It is a story about a family who lose a child. The Mother, Beth takes the children away and asks her older son who is 7, to watch her younger son who is 3 whilst she takes care of a hotel booking - she is just across the lobby. When she returns, Ben is gone and is nowhere to be found.
The book then follows the family, including extended family as they try to figure out what happened and where Ben has gone. Then, 10 years later Ben re-appears. (not a spoiler, it tells you on
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As the mother of small children, I didn't think I would have the stomach for the subject matter. But Mitchard is so good at slowly doling out the tidbits of info and clues, that I was compelled to keep going. As the product of an Italian-Irish union I found the extended families entirely relatable, and I thought the character of Candy was especially great. There were times when i didn't really understand Beth's behavior. If one of my kids went missing I think I would be personally turning over ...more
May 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
I did not really care for this one. I can't really pinpoint why. Maybe it was that Beth was shallow and so empty inside and that seemed to be her before Ben was kidnapped. Maybe it was that even though his brother was supposed to watch him and didn't, there was never any real attempt made to tell the brother that it was really NOT his fault. MOM was the adult. MOM could have held on to him while they checked into the hotel. Lord knows I have done it enough with my 3 girls. You just don't sit ...more
Kathleen Bywater
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Although the author obviously has talent, she has wasted little of it on this book about characters with whom audiences do not wish to identify.

The mother in this book is a basket case, completely uncaring about her family, and the reader finds himself unable to sympathize with her over the loss of her son. Most readers will sympathize with her husband instead; he has born the brunt of her problems for years and continues to do so after she loses her son at a class reunion.

I really had problems
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Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was named by USA Today as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years – second only to the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (but second by a long shot, it must be said.)

The Deep End of the Ocean was chosen as the first novel in the book club made famous by the TV host Oprah Winfrey, and transformed into a feature film

Other books in the series

Cappadora Family (2 books)
  • No Time to Wave Goodbye (Cappadora Family, #2)
“And it was that, the beyond-grief, the sealing-up of a mind still expected to produce order and plans, which she dreaded.” 0 likes
“It was that palpable sense of presence shoved up against the reality of absence, like hot against cold, that really threatened to buckle the whole mass.” 0 likes
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