Pages - 300
Published by Simon and Schuster in 2006, republished in 2011
'Who am I?
I sat at the computer in Mum's office and stared at the essay heading. New form teachers always give you homework like that at the start of the year. '
Lauren has always known she was adopted but when a little research turns up the possibility that she was snatched from an American family as a baby, suddenly Lauren's life seems like a sham. How can she find her biological parents? And are her adoptive parents really responsible for kidnapping her? She manages to wangle a trip across the Atlantic where she runs away to try and find the truth. But the circumstances of her disappearance are murky and Lauren's kidnappers are still at large and willing to do anything to keep her silent…
I was completely absorbed in this book from the first chapter. Sophie McKenzie hits you right in the face with every chapter ending, leaving you quickly scrabbling through the pages to find out what would happen next. Each chapter is quite short and sharp and you find yourself holding your breath in between turning to the next one.
Lauren is a very strong character. As soon as she discovers that her adoption may have been a illegal, she becomes determined to find out the truth. Most people would probably have collapsed with shock, but Lauren isn't a character to mess with and she takes in on the chin and devises a plan. She is fully aware that she is probably heading straight into a dangerous situation but she carries on regardless, like bungee jumping without a safety net!
During the search for her real parents, Lauren exists within her imaginary world. She has an idealistic view of how events will turn out when she finally discovers her real parents and role plays the situation continuously in her head. However, life never really turns out the way we imagine and she finds herself living in a rather tense situation. It is interesting to read how Lauren suddenly realises that she has completely changed her own destiny by pursuing her real parents and she sets off a chain reaction that can never be reversed.
Here is one of my favourite parts of the book, where Lauren realises that life will not be as imagined it would be.
'I sank down on the bed. Shelby was right. Annie didn't want me. She wanted the daughter she'd lost. She wanted eleven years of meals and cuddles and plasters on knees.
But she didn't want me.Here, Now. As I was.
And I didn't want her - I wanted the mother I had remembered. The woman I had dreamed. '
Instant realisation that reality didn't measure up to her imaginary views on the situation.
Lauren found it very difficult to fit into the new family environment and struggled to see how it affected everybody else in the family. She couldn't understand how painful it had been for Annie, all she could see was that she was losing her adoptive family whom she had grown up with. A very painful read. When you read about children returning to their real parents, you feel joyous for them and never consider how they all have to learn to live together again. It must often feel like letting a stranger back into your life.
Lauren found her new life very difficult, but by the end of the book she makes the right decision as she begins to realise exactly how Annie felt about her abduction when Madison was in danger.
On the whole, this was a brilliant story and very well thought out. I found it fascinating to read how the mind blocks out traumatic situations from the past and was intrigued by Lauren's memory being slowly triggered.
The characters were extremely well written and shined throughout the book. The pain that all the characters suffered almost dripped off the page. Jam was just a gorgeous character and his loyalty and love for Lauren was amazing. The story flows so easily and can be read in one sitting, as each chapter keeps you hooked.
I just can't believe that I haven't ever read a book by Sophie McKenzie before and I will certainly be reading more.