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by Belinda Bauer
This was an entertaining story. It starts with three children left in their mother's car broken down on the roadside while she goes to make a phone call, promising to be only ten minutes. However, she doesn't return at all. The author does a brilliant job of taking us through the thoughts and emotions of the eldest, Jack, who has been left in charge though he's only eleven. With a snappy sister and a baby that probably needs changing, he suddenly has far too much responsibility.
The chapters alternate between the story of the children and another character, Catherine, who is a pregnant woman from a few years later and who also faces a difficult and frightening situation. The connection isn't immediately obvious.
When the connection gets made, things get a lot more fast paced. Even before then, the idiosyncrasies of the various characters keep the story interesting. I liked Jack. The mystery of their mother's disappearance dominates much of the story and there are some flashbacks, especially in Jack's dreams. It's all done very smoothly so that I never felt confused about time periods or when Jack was dreaming again.
In some ways, some of the characters weren't quite believable and bordered on a few clichés. The police procedures definitely wandered into the highly unlikely. However, I didn't care. It was a good story and I enjoyed the read, even anticipating some of the unlikely directions it was heading towards near the end.
The only thing I didn't like about the end is that Catherine's story was left partially unresolved. I'd like to have known what happened next. Jack on the other hand I felt satisfied about.
There were some interesting psychological aspects of the story throughout. Jack's motivations were clear and his cleverness in tight situations is what made me feel sympathetic towards him.