Emma Healey's debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing was a fantastic read for me. I was eager to see what her newest book, Whistle in the Dark, held in store.
Jen and her teenaged daughter Lana go on an artist's retreat as a mother/daughter getaway. Lana goes missing but is thankfully found four days later. Grateful to have her back, Jen does not press her as to what happened, who took her or where she was. As Lana slowly heals from her injuries, her answer is always 'I can't remember.'
The police have no answers either. Jen cannot let it be - she needs to know what happened to her daughter, so she begins her own investigation.
While the question of what happened to Lana is the driving force behind Whistle in the Dark, it is about much more that that. The mother/daughter relationship is foremost. Healey's depiction is unsettling and somewhat dark. While I felt uncomfortable with some of Jen's parenting, there is no one template for the 'right' way to raise a child. Especially a child suffering from depression. Jen's husband and older daughter are also part of the story, but with a lesser impact. We do get to know Jen more through her own introspection. But again, I worried about some of her actions and decisions. I had a hard time connecting with her and found myself not sympathizing with her as much as I felt I should. She too has her own issues.
As the book neared the final pages, it confirmed what I thought might have happened to Lana. Spoiler avoidance - Healey's ending is a good metaphor for both Jen and Lana's struggles.
Whistle in the Dark was quite different from Elizabeth is Missing for this reader. Both explore relationships, memories, actions and reactions. This one was a bit of a slower read for me, more literary. But, Healey has a way with words. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Whistle in the Dark.