Disclaimer: I was given an early review copy by HarperCollins via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
“Home is where the harm is” blares the tagline of this compelling novel by Alexandra Burt. In sounds quite extreme and upon reading that tagline you would probably expect an intense rollercoaster told in the perspective of an abused or neglected child. You’re mistaken, as the tagline is simply a mind tricker. It rings true that, in the fictional world and possibly in real life, it is always the parents who raise suspicion when it comes to a child.
Estelle Paradise’s life consists of baby formula, dirty diapers and a workaholic husband. Things aren’t so smooth sailing for her as she is often sleep deprived and in a zombie-like state thanks to her colicky seven month old baby. Estelle worries obsessively about her baby daughter convinced that there is something wrong with her. She finds herself submerging into misery, and renders herself as an unfit mother. Her relationship with her lawyer husband is on thin ice thanks to the countless doctors’ appointments she demands for their daughter. Estelle’s mental state doesn’t worry Jack, he doesn’t find it appropriate for her to see a psychiatrist or a counsellor until he returns home to find his daughter has been missing and his wife is in hospital suffering from amnesia. Things aren’t looking good for Estelle as she failed to alert police that her daughter, Mia has been missing. It’s a race against time for Estelle to recollect her memories of what had happened to her daughter.
Little Girl Gone is an intense read which you will not be able to stop reading, like Estelle you want to know what had happened Mia, is she alive or is she dead? Where is she? And an anticipating question that you would dread as a reader, is Estelle really involved in the disappearance of her own child? Unlike some stories, you are placed in the psychiatrist’s position as you try to make sense what had happened and you want Estelle to recollect all her lost memories.
At first you think maybe, just maybe Estelle is responsible for her child’s disappearance because if she wasn’t she would have reported Mia missing which she didn’t. Then there is her depressed state, her obsession with something not being right with Mia, and the fact that Estelle is constantly on edge. There are moments before Mia goes missing where she talks about the demon inside her and how the sharp objects in the house are “calling her” and what she would like to do to make her baby stop crying.
Of course Alexandra doesn’t want you to know what has really happened to Mia. As the story progresses you start to feel a bit guilty for even believing Estelle is capable of harming her own child. Mia’s disappearance gets more sinister as you are still left to dwell upon whether she is alive or not.
Little Girl Gone is bound to send you on a rollercoaster of emotions as you follow Estelle throughout the whole ordeal sharing her pain, her grief, her longing for her daughter and her fear for Mia’s safety.