Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

VanishingActs

RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiance and a job she loves, finding missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall. And then a policeman knocks at her door, and her world fractures into something unrecognisable…”

REVIEW: This novel tells the story of Delia Hopkins, a woman with, as the blurb suggests, a life to be envied. She has a young daughter, Sophie, with her fiance Eric, one of her closest childhood friends. Her best friend Fitz is hugely supportive, particularly when it comes to Eric’s alcoholism, she has a warm and loving father named Andrew, and she is praised across the town for the work she does finding missing persons with her beloved dog Greta. However, her father’s sudden arrest leads Delia to discover that she is not actually Delia Hopkins at all; she is in fact Bethany Matthews, a woman whose father kidnapped her from her mother when she was just four years old. This means that the mother that Delia always believed to be dead is, in fact, alive, and has supposedly been searching for her daughter for twenty-eight years. Eric is swiftly dispatched to be Andrew’s lawyer, though his personal affiliation to the case – and his desire not to disappoint Delia – often makes it difficult for him to be objective about the proceedings. The story is told from the points of view of Delia, Eric, Fitz, Andrew and Delia’s long-lost mother, Elise, who seems know much more than she is letting on about Andrew’s motivations for running away with his daughter. These varying points of view give the reader interesting and contrasting perspectives on the story, and allow the judgement we make to be much more balanced and considered. As in the majority of Picoult’s novels, there is a conflict presented to the reader – should Andrew have taken Delia (or Bethany, as she was once known) away in order to protect her from the life of a child with an alcoholic mother? Or should he have allowed Delia to grow up with both parents present in her lives? A conflict for Delia also takes place within the book, not only in terms of which parent she sides with, but also in terms of her personal relationship – as the case begins to put her relationship with Eric under strain, old feelings she once had for Fitz – feelings that he has never lost – begin to resurface and threaten her relationship. This adds a very entertaining dimension to the story, and also gives it additional power to hook the reader. The twist at the end of the novel is brilliant, in true Picoult style, and definitively allows the reader to come to a decision over which parent they believe is right.

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