“People never really got beyond the concept of an eye for an eye. Especially when someone took your child.”
This quote is toward the end of Nicole Trope’s recently released The Boy Under the Table. It’s true, isn’t it?
The story begins with Tina, a young woman escaping her past on the streets of Kings Cross. On a cold night in the middle of winter she breaks all her own rules when she agrees to go home with a customer. What she finds in his house will change her life forever. Meanwhile, in rural New South Wales, Sarah and Doug are trapped in limbo, struggling to come to terms with the ‘loss’ of their son, Lockie, abducted at the Sydney Easter Show.
I wasn’t sure about reading this book. Since having my own children, I find topics such as child abduction particularly hard to stomach. Indeed, I read much of The Boy Under the Table with a ball of soggy tissues in my hand.
Trope captures the spectrum of emotions that Lockie’s parents experience – fear, guilt, grief and hope. The story moves quickly (if not a little predictably) and is without doubt a page turner – in fact, I read it in nearly one sitting.
“In her darker moments she thought that it would be easier if Lockie had died. At least then she would know where he was. They would know that he would never return. And they would have to pick and up the pieces of their lives. You couldn’t pick up the pieces when your child was lost.”
Two minor quibbles. Firstly, a couple of the chapters were told from the point of view of secondary characters, family friends Pete and Margie. These chapters detracted from those told from the point of view of the parents, and the drama lost a little momentum. I would have liked a chapter in Lockie’s voice but understand that Trope’s editor may have said “No, it’s not Room.”
Secondly, Tina’s situation was not entirely convincing – there were a few details that were perhaps a little too neat and her motivation not a hundred percent believable. I won’t give specifics or it will give away the story but I did think “Pick up the phone, Tina!”
Anyway, minor gripes for an otherwise perfectly satisfying read.
Read it with an old-school lamington.
3/5 A story that will prompt parents to give their kids an extra big hug and kiss today.