Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Linda Green’s fantastic psychological thriller, ‘While My Eyes Were Closed’. I absolutely loved this book, and ended up awarding it 5 stars – it’s going straight on my favourites shelf! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
One, two, three . . . Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa’s family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn’t a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa’s little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel explores the theme of child abduction/kidnapping throughout, including all the details of the police investigation. The theme of mental illness is explored with great detail, including a scene of suicide. Explores the themes of grief and loss.
‘While My Eyes Were Closed’ (May 2016) is Linda Green’s seventh novel but first psychological thriller. She has previously written romance and chick-lit novels. Linda Green is also an award-winning journalist and has written for major UK publications, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. She lives in West Yorkshire with her family.
The book has received rave reviews, from the likes of Sunday Mirror: “A terrifyingly plausible story, that will have parents looking over their shoulders” and Sun: “A powerful and provocative read that will get under your skin”. Many fellow authors have also praised the book, such as Dorothy Koomson: “Clever and compelling – this is a brave story, which is touching right down to the final word” and Amanda Prowse: “A beautifully crafted novel of knife-edge suspense”.
‘While My Eyes Were Closed’ tells the story of Lisa Dale and her family, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when their young daughter Ella disappears. The police do everything they can to find Ella – but what if the kidnapper is closer to home than they first realised?
The narrative is told from the first-person perspectives of Lisa and Muriel predominantly, but there are also past diary entries included from Matthew. The reader is given a deep insight to the characters’ thoughts, feelings and emotions, and is able to gain a great deal of knowledge about the characters. The diary entries from Matthew begin in 2014, leading up to one year before Ella’s disappearance. The narrative is fairly simple to follow, but still very effective.
Lisa is my favourite character in the novel. She’s a personal trainer and busy mother, and she has a lot of responsibilities. When Ella disappears, she is rightfully distraught and is willing to do anything to get her daughter back. She begins to criticise herself and starts to believe that she is a bad mother, after the press label her in this way. Lisa always puts others before herself, and Ella’s disappearance turns her whole world upside down. She becomes emotional and irrational, and her relationships with her other family members become strained. Lisa is a very realistic character, and I really did feel a great deal of sympathy towards her.
Muriel is a truly fascinating character. At first, she appears to be very cold and cruel, and is extremely selfish. However, it soon becomes clear that she is suffering with her mental health and is very unwell. She lives by herself and is struggling to cope. When Ella comes into her life, this gives her purpose again – but deep down, she knows that what she is doing is wrong. She’s a very conflicted character, and I felt that the portrayal of her mental illness was excellent.
Muriel’s teenage son Matthew is also struggling to cope. He is in love with his girlfriend Sparrow, but is forced to choose between his family and his girlfriend. For a young teenager, he has a lot of responsibilities and has to make some very unfair decisions. He always does his best to please others, and puts other people before himself. Matthew is suffering and really needs a good support network, but unfortunately he is left to deal with things by himself. I felt a great deal of sadness whilst reading Matthew’s diary entries.
Other characters in the novel include: Alex (Lisa’s husband), Chloe and Otis (Ella’s siblings), Malcolm (Muriel’s ex-husband), Ella’s grandparents, Tony (Lisa’s brother), Claire (the family liaison officer), and various members of the police team. There is a relatively small cast of characters in the novel, but all bring something fresh and exciting to the story.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel explores the theme of child abduction/kidnapping in great detail. References are made throughout to the police investigation, and the possible harm that could have come to Ella i.e. sexual abuse. The theme of mental illness is explored in great detail, in relation to multiple characters. A scene of suicide is also described. Finally, the themes of grief and loss are explored in detail. All of these issues are dealt with appropriate sensitivity, but if you feel that any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, the police do everything they can to find Ella, but seem to be getting no closer. Ella’s family become more and more distraught, and they are all struggling to keep the faith. Ella’s situation becomes more dangerous, and it’s only a matter of time before something really bad happens to her. Will they find her, before it’s too late?
So, let’s talk about the ending! There is a dramatic end scene, in which everybody must work together to find Ella. It’s a race against the clock to find her, before she comes to any harm. I was literally on the edge of my seat during the ending! The actual resolution was really uplifting, and I felt really satisfied with the way things were tied together. I felt very emotional at the end!
Overall, I highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you like reading about missing children. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the book. Fantastic characters, a brilliantly-woven plot, plenty of suspense, and an excellent ending – what more could you want? I couldn’t fault this book, even if I tried to. Highly recommend it to you all.
Happy reading 🙂