Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Book Review Goodreads
Books,  Fiction,  Mysteries & Thrillers,  Sarah

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Book Review

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Book Review Goodreads

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Book Review

The lowdown from Goodreads

Publication Date August 21, 2018

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Book Review

So many feelings about Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey. First, I need a drink, a deep breath & a little time to process everything.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Okay, I’m back. Let’s set one thing straight. Being a parent is no easy feat. Some folks think babies are tough because they don’t sleep through the night, they cannot fully communicate & let’s face it, they are needy. It will get easier they say. Once the kids are potty trained, things will be great. When the kids are in school, things will slow down. After they are able to drive, it will be a huge load off.

You Love Your Kids, Right?

I’m here to break it down for you; it doesn’t get easier folks. Kids are tough. Being a parent is no joke. Now, there are some who make the parenting game look like a breeze & I tip my hat off to them. Just kidding, I roll my eyes at them! Making parenting look simple – that’s not me. Honestly, I make nothing look easy! Often I worry what irreparable harm my foul mouth, my choices & my parenting style may have on my kids. But, my bottom line is that I love them, I do the best I can & I can’t imagine them not being in my life.

Mother-Daughter Relationships

But, what if I didn’t feel that way? What if I felt like Amy? Amy seems to be living a life she doesn’t want. She’s not happy in her marriage, she’s overworked, over-stressed & seems to be lacking the indelible connection that allows parents to love their kids in spite of everything. Amy is harsh & on edge. While on the edge, she reacts poorly to her daughter, Emma. Amy is not a kind, warm mother who makes things look easy. From the outside looking in, Amy seems as though she could walk away from her kids, her life & her spouse.

In Walks Sarah

What the hell is Sarah thinking? She steals a child. We’ve been there, right? Hopefully, you haven’t stolen a child, but you’ve been in Sarah’s shoes for at least a moment where you’ve seen an interaction with a parent & a child that leaves you feeling uneasy about what happens at home or behind closed doors. The feeling is unsettling, sickening & you’re left wondering what you can do.

Sarah has this feeling not once but twice, & her “solution” is to take Emma away from her home.  Rea Frey gives readers a look into what Sarah is thinking & planning. In an instant, Sarah whisks Emma away & readers see the cascade of events after this decision. Not Her Daughter is emotional, tense & spurs debate over what makes a mother & what is best for a child.

So Many Feelings

If there was ever a book that is made for a book club and/or a more intense discussion, it is Not Her Daughter. As soon as I finished, I immediately messaged my fellow readers to discuss it in more detail. I love that in a book. While there are some similarities to What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross, Not Her Daughter really explores the darker side of motherhood.

I messaged the author while reading & she wants readers to experience a variety of emotions. Well, Ms. Frey, you succeeded! While reading Not Her Daughter, I was in turmoil. There really are two (or more) sides to a story & Rea gives us all sides. She uses alternating narrators in a before/after type of timeline that at times was a tiny bit difficult to follow. My advice is to set aside time & read larger chunks of the story. You will likely be engrossed in the story as quickly as me.


I am Really Into This book. I couldn’t put it down & I want to talk to every reader about it! Not Her Daughter stirs up emotions & questions what really makes a mother.

Special thanks to Rea FreySt. Martin’s Press & NetGalley for providing my copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.

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Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey Book Review Author Bio Rea Frey
Rea Frey

Rea always wanted to be a novelist.

When she was little, her nose was either stuffed in a book, sniffing paper, absorbing words, or letting her imagination wander. If not reading, she was writing. In journals. In notebooks. In diaries. On walls. In the sand. On legal pads. On typewriters. With quills.

In college, she majored in fiction writing and somehow fell into nonfiction and personal training. Her dreams of sitting in a writer’s haven on the water, wrapped in a sweater, penning her stories, was swapped for health and wellness gigs and her first fractured steps into the important world of the Author Platform (aka social media).

After four nonfiction books were published, countless magazine and newspaper articles written, editing jobs taken, content management contracts executed, a gym co-owned, and certifications sought, she realized she was hustling for the wrong type of writing.

So, she quit.

She gave herself a window to write a novel. Eight weeks, she told herself. Eight weeks to change everything.

Never one to back down from a challenge, she wrote her novel in just a month.

The rest went something like this: Secure a phenomenal agent, join a writer’s group, bear witness to the magic of self-belief as the book got into a bidding war and landed her a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press.

Now, when asked what she does, she says the following: I’m a motherfucking writer.  

Rea is a novelist. She writes books. And swears. And drinks lots of coffee. And has a daughter. And a dreamy husband. And still manages to find the magic in books.

She hopes you will put down the phone and pick up a book (preferably hers when it hits the shelves). And find the joy in reading.

Because there’s nothing quite like the power of words…

Momma, wife, baker, reader & smart ass. I am Really Into doughnuts, inside jokes, trash TV, pizza, 48 Hours & George Michael.


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