Snap by Belinda Bauer
SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .
On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them.
Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long.
But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back.
And life as the children know it is changed for ever.
Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .
I am a HUGE fan of this author and have read ALL of her previous novels. I love the sound of the synopsis and the way the author has previous written the psychology of children in her novels. I literally could not wait to read this book!
The novel opens in August 1998 on the hard shoulder of the M5. Jack (11yrs) is in the broken down car with his siblings Joy (9yrs) and Merry (2yrs). Their heavily pregnant mother has left the vehicle to use the SOS phones on the hard shoulder. The setting of 1998 adds to the feeling of helplessness as the children must be left alone, whilst the mother attempts to get help.
But their mother never returns!
‘Jack’s in charge’
In 2001 we are introduced to another character, heavily pregnant first time mum Catherine. She disturbs an intruder and finds a knife and note stating ‘I could have killed you’. However, she takes the bizarre course of action to not tell anyone about the encounter. Not wanting to appear a victim or seen as weak in any form. It is a choice that will lead her to come face to face with her intruder.
Jack and his sibling’s fate goes from bad to much worse. The press continues to hound the family, resulting in the children being unable to return to school. Their father is a broken man, falling apart. It falls to Jack to take charge and make the decisions needed for his sibling’s survival.
Jack for me personally is the shining star of this novel. He is so emotionally fragile and vulnerable. He struggles to deal with his own feelings in the aftermath of his mother’s disappearance, leading to bad dreams and a criminal future.
Bauer writes child characters scarily good!!!
West Country Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel has transferred from the murder squad in Lewisham to the quiet town of Somerset. He is a no-nonsense cop and he is itching to solve some ‘proper’ crime. He puts together an operation to trap a local serial burglar nicknamed ‘Goldilocks’.
Catherine continues to be harassed by the anonymous intruder that left the note. She has a weird relationship with her husband Adam, which kept me guessing. I never really trusted her character, there is just something about her, I don’t like. . .
The first 40% of the novel is a difficult read and very slow burning. But once the twists start, the plot really takes off. I was so emotionally invested in the character of Jack. Maybe this is because I am a mother of two young sons. Or his journey of being the oldest sibling and the bearer of responsibility. But there is something very moving about Jack’s plight. His characterisation is an example of excellent writing. 4*