I found this excellent North Shore News article talking about the necessity of letting your kids grow up and do stuff on their own without being constantly sheltered by hovering parents, and about not getting overly frightened by news coverage of crimes against children.
I have spoken on this blog before about my belief that today’s children are overprotected and the media, wanting to sell itself, peddles alarmist stories and makes the world sound worse than it is. I’m a student of history and it’s my opinion that the world is no worse than it has ever been. It’s only attitudes that have changed. I’m concerned about kids who grow up having no idea how to take care of themselves because their parents were scared to let them learn.
I just finished reading September Sisters by Jillian Cantor, a novel about the disappearance of ten-year-old Becky Reed and how it devastates the rest of her family. It’s told from the point of view of Abby, Becky’s sister, who is exactly two years and one day older. Becky vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night, apparently abducted, and her family fell apart in the aftermath of the kidnapping. They had been a normal, middle-class suburban family. After Becky went missing, the mother sank into a suicidal depression. The father tried to be the strong one in the family, refusing to discuss his grief and anger or to accept the idea that his daughter might be dead. Abby became an outcast at school, as she was unable to relate to her classmates anymore and there were nasty stories circulating about her family. In absence of any other suspects or clues, the police believed the parents were involved in Becky’s disappearance, but Abby was convinced it couldn’t have been them. She and her only friend, the new boy who just moved in next door, made some attempts to solve the case on their own, but without much success.
The story has a lot of suspense with the whole who did it, why did they do it, is she still alive thing, and quite a few red herrings and leads that went nowhere, just like in a real investigation. The reader knows they will eventually find out what happened, since the story opens with Abby’s father pulling her out of class at school several years after the abduction and saying, “They found her.” Becky’s fate, and the identity of the person responsible for her disappearance, aren’t revealed until the very end, though. But this novel is not a whodunit. The more important thing was the affect Becky’s disappearance had on her family. To me, finding the actual kidnapper became almost irrelevant. It’s like The Lovely Bones that way, except I didn’t really like that book.
I really thought September Sisters was excellent for its detail and the relationships involved. The futile struggle of the Reed family to hold itself together was very realistic, as was Abby’s deepening friendship and growing love for Thomas. This is Jillian Cantor’s first book, and it’s an impressive effort. I will definitely read more of her work when it comes out.