Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight follows in the footsteps of her first novel, Reconstructing Amelia. Both novels deal with motherhood and issues affecting women today centered around a mystery, a “who done it.” There are quite a few serious issues that are dealt with in this book from death to new life, physical abuse to mental abuse, as well as handling grief.
The story is character based where all the occupants of a town appear to be dysfunctional. It is told from the perspective of three Ridgedale, New Jersey women who must come to grips with a shocking discovery, the body of an unidentified newborn found in the woods. The suspense in the novel is putting together the pieces of the puzzle to find who left the baby and why. Molly is the journalist assigned to cover the case, which in many ways becomes self-therapy since she is trying to overcome a late term miscarriage. Through her investigation she discovers buried secrets of the town and its occupants.
The novel is written in alternating viewpoints between Molly, Sandy, and Barbara. Dysfunctional is a nice way of referring to these townspeople. Molly suffers from depression and is attending psychiatric sessions while investigating this case. Barbara on the surface appears to be the perfect mom, yet is dissatisfied with her life and insecure about the fidelity of her husband. Sandy has dropped out of school, mainly to take care of her alcoholic, druggie mother Jenna. Besides these characters there are some minor ones, including a couple having trouble conceiving, and a possible sexual predator. McCreight skillfully links these characters together, not only with the tragedy, but also with their personal lives, creating an enjoyable read.
On a side note the author adds “comments” to Molly’s articles. McCreight did this for effect, hoping to show how the township handles the news of an infant found dead. She noted, “I wanted the readers to get a broader sense of the town and to understand the context. Although I did want to also show that these anonymous comments can be very shocking and is similar to a lynch mob mentality. Being anonymous allows people to make more aggressive comments. I am hoping that people ask themselves questions about their own life.”
She gave a heads up about her next book, a young adult novel that will be part of a trilogy. She calls it speculative fiction because of the “what if” element. The first book in the series has a girl struggling with grief over losing her mother and then unexpectantly finds her good friend missing. It will deal with understanding how female intuition can be a tool for solving a case.