Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saving Madeline by Rachel Ann Nunes
Trade Paperback, 328 pages
When I first heard of this book, I visited the author’s Web site and learned that the idea for her story came from the sad case of “an infant in Utah who was found dead after ingesting methamphetamines she had found in a plastic bag on the floor of her home.” What made this tragic circumstance even more notable and horrific is that weeks earlier her father had kidnapped the child, crossing state borders in hopes of protecting his little girl from her mother’s substance abuse.
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to read this book. We meet Caitlin McLoughlin, a public defender sick of her job defending criminals, and dreaming of a different life for her and her mentally challenged sister, Amy, who is left in her care after the death of their parents. Then Parker Hathaway walks into their lives, charged with kidnapping his four-year-old daughter, Madeline. Is he just another criminal or a man truly claiming to protect the child he loves?
In truth, I expected this book to be a courtroom drama. It turned out to be more of a romance story. I like romance stories, but I really craved the suspenseful, battle-of-the-wits, keep-em-guessing-til-the-end kind of story. It’s perhaps for this reason that I was frustrated with Caitlin when she easily lost her head for her client the minute she set eyes on him, encouraged no less by her detective-cop friend to pursue a relationship when they both had no proof Parker was telling the truth about his ex-wife’s drug situation. Sometimes, I felt they acted like a couple of schoolgirls and not professionals bound to respect the ethical issue of romantic involvement with one’s client. I had nothing against the fact that Caitlin was attracted to her client, because this added emotional conflict to an already emotionally charged situation, but I wanted the tension between them to be more palpable because of their situation, to really build up until the very end. Their romance was too predictable.
However, once I got past this, I enjoyed the book. The ending was satisfying. And the secondary characters added much to this book. Madeline and Amy especially gave a sense of how vulnerable the young-minded are, and how responsible a parent or caregiver must be to protect them. Most of all, this story opened my eyes to the reality of many of today’s children. The author succeeded in creating a story that makes a parent stop to think if they are inadvertently doing anything that could jeopardize their children’s safety.
The author dedicates this book to the many young children in the world who don’t have anyone to fight for them, hoping this book could be their voice. That alone gets a big thumbs up from me.