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Book Review: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

A teenager, Lily, is kidnapped and kept hidden away for eight long years.  While hidden she births a child, a daughter named Sky who becomes her raison d’etre.  Their prison is the only home Sky has ever known and Lily and her captor the only other people she’s ever met. Suddenly an opportunity arises that allows for escape… this book is not the story of the search for Lily, this is the story of how Lily and Sky, as well as Lily’s family and friends adjust to Lily’s newfound freedom.

This has all the hallmarks of what should be a really gripping thriller, except that is false advertising.  This is a story of family dynamics and interpersonal struggles.  There are harsh words, long silences, jealousies and plenty of angst to go around.  Lily is a twin, an identical twin and her sister Abigail is resentful and scared of her upon her return.  Lily’s mother has carried the guilt of Lily’s loss for eight years and hasn’t handled it well.  Everything Lily had clung to during her years of captivity is gone.

This is a well-written story, it is just not a gripping, edge of your seat thriller.  It is instead a drama that peels back the layers of a suburban family and seeks to expose all of their faults.  Unfortunately the characters, including Lily, are pretty one-dimensional and the emotions expressed seem flat and lacking true depth.

I wanted to love the book, but I finished it with disappointment primarily due to the fact that I was expecting something completely different when I picked it up.  At times I felt that Lily was just too good, too patient.  Where was her anger at having her life pass her by?  Where was her disappointment that the people she loved weren’t the same people she’d left behind?  Where was her resentment that her child, her reason for getting up every day in her prison had spent her childhood at the mercy of a narcissistic and often mean captor?  Lily is just too placid and too accepting of her fate.

The book is an easy read.  You can put it down and pick it up without losing the story – this works well for a beach or vacation read.  I was able to finish it in several hours of undisturbed reading.  So, if you pick it up knowing you are going to be reading about a family who has seen hell and is now working to bring themselves back to some kind of normalcy, you will probably enjoy the book and find that it meets your expectations.  In fact, the story reads better if you put yourself in the place of those who had been left behind.  The real drama, the real emotions are found there.  In a nutshell, read “Baby Doll” not for its thrills, but for its drama without expecting a life-changing literary experience.

 

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