Jenny Milchman’s new novel concentrates on a mother’s primal fear: the vanishing of her children. Her main characters in this stand alone novel are the Daniels family, Paul, Liz, Ally and Reid, on their way to visit Paul’s parents. Rarely do the Daniels leave their homestead and their contact with Paul’s family has been minimal.
Milchman begins to skillfully sketch in the family details: the processed snacks snuck by Liz to her children when they are on the road, despite Paul’s objections; the clever and disturbing ability of Reid to pick pockets; the sweetness of Ally; and the apparent controlling nature of Paul. We’re seeing it all through Liz’s lens. When Paul decides they can spend the night in a hotel before reaching his parents’ house, Liz is delighted by the rare treat and chance to get cleaned up and prepared to face her in-laws. Wakening from a deep, comfortable sleep the next morning, she quickly discovers the children are missing, and she and Paul go into full panic mode.