Reading Time: 4 minutes

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Genre: ContemporaryAdult, MysteryThriller

352 pages | Published August 21st, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads // Buy this book: Paperback


Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma 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. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. 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 whether 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 Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?



Big thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

This was a bittersweet read, which I hadn’t anticipated. There were things I really enjoyed, but others I was very annoyed at. I’m very torn and still haven’t decided what rating I will be giving this book – but I’m hoping that writing the review will help!

Buckle up, my friends, this is going to turn into a rant 😅



NOT HER DAUGHTER is a story of kidnapping, but it is atypical. Rather than reading from the perspective of the victim, the victim’s family, or the detectives looking for the victim, you actually follow the kidnapper’s point of view! Well, you also see the perspective of the family, but the kidnapper is definitely the central element. Right off the bat, that sounds like a great premise, which made me super excited to read it. The kidnapper, Sarah, is atypical herself, since she means absolutely no harm, and thinks taking Emma is the right thing to do. Sarah thinks this because, in her eyes, Emma’s mom is mean to her for no reason.

The plot itself is good, and so is the writing. It reads pretty fast once it picks up, which is a plus for me. However, there was something that made me pause my reading about 40% of the way in: the characters…



This is the reason it took me a while to finish the book. The main characters in this story are ridiculous in terms of how they think and behave. Allow me to elaborate:

AMY, the mother of the missing child, finds herself in an unhappy marriage, with kids that drive her crazy – keep in mind she didn’t want the kids in the first place – and a mediocre life. So, since she hates the life that she chose, because she’s an adult and let herself get to where she is, what does she do? She flips her shit one day, slaps her kid across the face, yells at her, and locks her outside, which leads to her going missing. Can I get a round of applause?
Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that, the whole time Emma is missing, Amy keeps thinking to herself “I feel really bad but also, do I really want her back? I mean she never does what I tell her to do”… because kids are known to do exactly as they’re told, right? 😒

RICHARD, the father of the missing child, also hates his life but actually loves his kids. He’s useless though, and that’s basically all Amy says about him. They hate each other but they still married and had kids and now this mess happened. These two should definitely teach Adulting 101

SARAH, the kidnapper, tries to convince herself that she’s actually not a criminal, but some kind of hero. “Oh my god her parents are soooo terrible, I have to do something about it” commits a crime for the greater good, doesn’t consider it a bad thing
She also doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of children being annoying and people being annoyed by them, which is outrageous to me. Everyone knows children can be annoying and throw fits all the time when you tell them no, right? I mean, I can’t be alone in this. I threw fits all the time when my mom didn’t buy me candy, and I KNOW a lot of you out there did too. Don’t even try to deny it 😄 But Sarah, based on what she witnessed during the 2-3 times she saw Emma with her mom (which amounts to, what, 20 minutes in total?), decides that this woman is a monster. Not just a mom of a 5-year-old after a long day, but a total monster who ignores her kid when she is clearly throwing a fit. Granted, Amy sure doesn’t get the Best Mom Award, but I mean it’s not like the kid was in danger or not being fed or anything. But because Sarah’s got mommy issues herself, she decides that she has to intervene… not by letting CPS know that Emma is being mistreated, but by taking her away from the monstrous creature 😒
Then, she is discovered by someone she knows and is completely shocked when that person tells the cops that she has the girl that everyone is looking for… you do realize you’re  l i t t e r a l l y  a criminal, right…? Like… kidnapping a little girl is a crime and you will go to jail for it, regardless of your good intentions… also that person could be sentenced as well if they knew you had the girl and they didn’t tell anyone soooooo yeah, you really shouldn’t be surprised

It’s like no one wants to be accountable for their own mistakes. Come on, people, you’re adults. Act like it!! Also, how is the concept of kids annoying adults so alien to this woman? What the hell?

Anyway, that was my only complaint about the book: I felt like the characters were dumb and had completely unrealistic ways of thinking. However, this is kind of a story of love, which I appreciate, and I did enjoy the read after all – I just rolled my eyes a lot 😅

Writing ★★★★☆
Characters ★★☆☆☆
Plot ★★★★☆
Pacing ★★★☆☆
Overall 3.25 stars

Overall, I classify Not Her Daughter as an okay read. Although there were many eye-roll-worthy moments, I did enjoy the story and found the developing relationship between Emma and Sarah very endearing. But Sarah needs a reality check ASAP!


I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Not Her Daughter and if you’d like, check out my other book reviews!

Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading,
I’ll see you in my next post ♡