Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson

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Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A young man is brought up in a troubled and violent household in an isolated area of Arizona. A chance opportunity sees him abduct a young girl called Zoe and keep her captive for years, in an underground bunker.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Windmill Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099537632

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Forgetting Zoe opens with Thurman, one of the two main characters. We see that his home life is dreadful - with a violent and cruel father and a mother who is weak. And as an only child (to rather elderly parents) Thurman hears his father's violence directed at his mother. Their home is out of the way and in an isolated spot, so really the three of them form a very unhappy threesome indeed. The reader is left in no doubt as to the nature of the father with lines such as, As a form of punishment Father would press one of his hands down on top of Thurman's head so forcefully that Thurman's legs would buckle... that blood would trickle down his forehead...

But one day everything changed. Thurman had decided (young as he was) that enough was enough. A situation sees the end and the death of Father. Thurman thinks that he can now enjoy a quiet and peaceful life with his mother (whom he adores). But it's not to be. Fate has dealt another cruel blow to the Hayes' household. His mother develops a serious illness and soon Thurman is left on his own to fend for himself. Will he be able to cope? And the tragedy of it all makes for sad reading indeed. On top of everything else, Thurman is a loner, he has no friends, no one takes the time to drop by for a chat and a gossip. Seems as if Father's reputation lives on - even after his untimely death.

It's a slow and steady build-up until Zoe puts in an appearance. I was starting to wonder where she'd gone. And this chance encounter/meeting between Zoe and Thurman is exactly that. No pre-planning involved. Zoe is ten years old and one day she simply disappears. As the days, weeks and months move on, her distraught family think the worst: they think she's dead.

A good chunk of the book is all about the intriguing relationship between Zoe and Thurman: captive and captor. And it all makes for fascinating reading as the power struggle is played out on the page. We learn over time that Zoe is a quiet, rather shy girl. But Zoe didn't need friends, she had her imagination. So the reader probably wonders if she has any inner resource that she can draw on, to remain alive. Robinson tells us all about Zoe and of her daily fight for survival. He tells us in great detail. We often get a day-by-day account. But rather than being sensational, Robinson is subtle. Very subtle.

But even with this nightmarish scenario, there are some light moments, although to be fair, if you blink you'll probably miss them. Forgetting Zoe covers some vile human characteristics: abduction, murder and rape, to name but three. It also serves, I think, to highlight the fact that sometimes when our backs are against the wall, we summon up enough courage to fight another day.

As I was reading this book I was struck by the similarity of at least one real-life situation which received a great deal of media coverage - a young girl and her older, male captor. This book is a moving story and it did move me. A deep and also disturbing book. Recommended.

My thanks to the publisher for sending it to Bookbag.

If you enjoyed Forgetting Zoe, you'll also like Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Buy Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson at Amazon.com.


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