The Year of Fog | Michelle Richmond

December 26, 2009

2007

After finishing The Pact by Jodi Picoult, I was ready to start another novel, which is usually the case.  I guess if I had a constant stream of good novels sitting by my bedside, I would never use the Internet.  Instead, it is very difficult for me to find books that I actually enjoy.  Lately, I have found books that are sad draw me in.  Out of the five books I’ve read in the last six months, three of them have been about child kidnappings.  Michelle Richmond’s The Year of Fog was much different from the other two.

Spoilers to follow.

Just because the child is found by the end of The Year of Fog does not mean that it is a happy ending.  I would have to say that Richmond played the safe route, but didn’t let us down too much.  The story is about Abby Mason and the disappearance of her fiance’s six-year old daughter, Emma.  The disappearance happens within the first few paragraphs, and the search takes up the rest of the novel except the final 20 or so pages.  Where Jake, Emma’s father, relies on the police investigation and the command post where he and hundreds of volunteers organize searches and flyer handouts, Abby searches on her own.  She drives through every neighborhood in the city, talks to thousands of strangers, and even follows a man through town for several hours in case he is involved.  Eventually, through her own research, and the help of a hypnotist, her search leads her to Costa Rica where she inevitably finds Emma on the beach with her captors.

Unfortunately, the buildup (the entirety of the novel, it almost seemed) was too large for the anticlimactic ending Richmond grants us.  Yes, I am happy Emma was found.  And though Abby’s search was desperate, took almost a year, and she almost gave up there at the end, I find it very convenient that she happens upon Emma only after she decides to head back home to the states.  I say that Richmond took the safe route because not only does Abby find Emma, but Emma has not been abused (or so she says) in any way.  Instead, she was simply kept by her captors (via her mother) in Costa Rica with promises that her father would come get her soon.

Abby of course is thrilled that she not only found Emma but that the girl was unharmed.  But, like I said, Richmond doesn’t entirely let us down.  Emma has changed.  She doesn’t care much for Abby anymore, and Jake no longer wants Abby to be a part of their family.  It’s difficult to watch and read the end without wanting something more.  Abby spent an entire year searching for Emma who was not her own daughter.  And, after finding her, she can not have a life with her.  Richmond leaves Abby to start her own life, to pursue surfing with a friend she met through her search, and I’m left wondering what she gained from her year of fog.

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