Video: Book Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

Watch this video review of The Child and more bookish videos on my Read Remark booktube channel.

The Child by Fiona Barton
Published June 2017
Transworld Digital

One-sentence summary:

A baby’s bones have been found and three women are desperate for answers.

Three women are desperate to find out whose baby bones have just been found.

Kate is the last of a dying breed; the investigative reporter. She’s following the story of the Building Site Baby, looking for her next big lead. And it’s a lead she needs. Between layoffs and the rise of immediate, shallow online news clips, Kate’s brand of in-depth, labor-intensive journalism is in jeopardy.

Angela is a mom who lost her baby decades ago. She took a quick shower at the hospital, and during those few minutes, her newborn was stolen. The Building Site Baby’s bones fit the timeframe, so Angela is hoping, albeit morbidly, for a match so she can put the issue to rest and finally have a chance to properly grieve.

Emma is the wife of an older but supportive man. She stays at home, ghostwriting for ghostwriters so she doesn’t have to interact with the actual person to person world too much. Even interacting with her mother is a chore. Haunted by something traumatic in her past, depression rules her days.

Emma’s existence is somewhat reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper. She needs to just rest her pretty little head, not concern herself about heavy things, and focus on getting better.

What is “The Yellow Wallpaper,” you ask? Read my rundown of this short story here.

The gist: a woman, likely suffering from postpartum depression goes to a country house for a rest cure. She is told to just rest, rest, rest. No writing, no reading, no anything other than resting.

Tempting as that may sound in today’s busy, multitasking world, it drives her mad and with nowhere else for her mind to go, she becomes convinced there’s a woman hiding in the patterns of the room’s yellow wallpaper trying to get out.

Bear with me…I’m going to take a sharp turn for a moment and talk about Gone Girl.

Whaaaaat? Shocker.

If you’re one of my 3 readers, you’ll know that I tend to rant about the constant comparison of other books to Gone Girl.

I love the book. But I hate the constant marketing of books with even semi-complex females being marketed ever after as the next Gone Girl.

My frustrations:

It draws a false comparison in a ploy to sell books, leaving the reader disappointed in what, on its own, was a perfectly good book.

I’m irked that it’s so shocking that women can be multi-layered and not always nice. Strong women don’t always have to be perfect.

I read a FASCINATING article by Emily Martin on Bookriot recently that adds a richer layer to this discussion, titled “Why We Should Stop Searching for the Next Gone Girl.”

She argues that in the race to be the next Gone Girl, the stereotype of women swings the other way. Now, instead of being pure of heart and intent, women are drawn as increasingly crazy caricatures.

Crazy is the key word here, or more properly, suffering from mental illness. These aren’t femme fatales. Many of these women in actuality need qualified help.

The Girl on the Train is a severe alcoholic. Anne from The Couple Next Door has depression and anxiety.

Emily Martin argues this race to up the ante and deliver the craziest, most raging woman mistakes mental illness with danger and intrigue. Get these women the help they need! Don’t laud them as the next Amy Dunne.

What’s the comparison between this and The Child? Well, nothing really.

I told you it was a sharp turn we were taking, right? Emma leads to Yellow Wallpaper, leads to mental illness, leads to Emily Martin’s article, and here we are.

Bottom line: read The Child. It’s mighty fine.

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