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The Deep End Of The Ocean (1999)

The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

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3.81 of 5 Votes: 1
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0140286276 (ISBN13: 9780140286274)
penguin books

About book The Deep End Of The Ocean (1999)

What a depressing book! I could actually say I have a lot in common with this book being#1 a bereaved parent (although my child died, he did not disappear)#2 being an adopted child who found and contacted the birth family as an adult and made an effort to fit into that family and have two families. I've been a quasi member of the birth family for years now, very quasi.Three year old Ben, youngest member of a large Italian family from his father's side and Irish family from his mother's side, disappears from a crowded hotel lobby. His family tries to hold together but has a very hard time, no duh. When Ben is found 9 years later he is happily ensconced in the family of the woman who abducted him and has no memory of his birth family. The family is torn apart further.I've noticed a lot of reviewers are critical of Beth, the mother of kidnapped Ben. Want to say, don't judge unless you have been in her shoes. My child died and I am a different person than I was. It took me about 6 years to rebuild the identity and personality I lost when my child died. How much worse would it be if you had no idea what happened to your child? If you could not know if they were in pain, what they might have suffered or might still be suffering; I think your life would be a waking nightmare. And she knew her husband and family blamed her for Ben's disappearance, she blamed herself. That kind of guilt must be completely crushing. Was she selfish? Yes. The little of her that was left after Ben disappeared had to be used to survive. That made her selfish. All her energies were devoted inwardly. The affair stuff, well... She had an interest in Nick before she lost Ben. I think that possibility was in her mind when she went to Chicago. Grief magnifies those things that are already wrong with a person. That she followed through on her interest is not that surprising. I was glad to see her struggle with it though, it seemed a very human and likely struggle to me. She is also blamed by reviewers for Vincent's problems. But Vincent's problem was guilt, much like his mother. He was not the person he was because his mother ignored him although I'm sure that did not help, he was that person because of guilt.

The kid is found and he's fine. That's not a spoiler; you can read it on the jacket. However, I had to skip to the second half to see for myself, and I read in other reviews that other people did, too. I really didn't want to be reading a book about a child being kidnapped and killed or abused. And that's not what it was at all, so rest assured.The first half of the book is about what happens with a family when their middle child, a three-year-old, is kidnapped. The second half is about what happens with them when he comes back, nine years later. They're a dysfunctional family either way, and the most interesting question for me that this story raises is whether they would have been like that even if the boy hadn't been kidnapped (and whether the boy wasn't in fact better off having been raised by his kidnappers). It really made me stop and think about my own performance as a mother, whether I'm giving my kids enough attention or am going through life in a self-centered haze. The (slightly) negative points for me were, first, the sometimes too long introspective passages from the mother's point of view. I skipped over some of those. We already know her mindset and her self-reproach and self-absorbedness fairly early on, and I felt that it was repeated too often. The other thing that bothered me a bit was the too tidy coincidence of so many key characters from the past either being dead or having memory loss due to Alzheimer's or catatonia. It was only nine years, not fifty. It's obvious that the author simply didn't want to have to get deeply into the kidnapper's motivation, or was advised by her editor to cut out 100 pages somewhere, and this was a quick way to avoid those issues. I really would have been interested to have at least one scene where the kidnapper spoke, if only in an internal monologue.

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Although the author obviously has talent, she has wasted little of it on this book about characters with whom audiences do not wish to identify.The mother in this book is a basket case, completely uncaring about her family, and the reader finds himself unable to sympathize with her over the loss of her son. Most readers will sympathize with her husband instead; he has born the brunt of her problems for years and continues to do so after she loses her son at a class reunion.I really had problems getting into this book. Admittedly, at the end, it did leave me thinking about it somewhat, but it is slow and unrealistic. I don't consider this book to be any sort of "future classic." If I don't consider reading a book for a 2nd time, then something's wrong (my friends have always teased me about reading books over and over); this book was borrowed from a friend and returned promptly when I finished it.
—Kathleen Bywater

The story of a family in the wake of a tragedy. When Ben, a three year old boy, disappears in a crowded hotel lobby, his family begins to slowly come apart. Nine years later, the boy is miraculously found and restored to the family, safe and unhurt. Unfortunately, it is not the happy homecoming everyone wanted. Ben does not remember his birth family. To him, the Cappadoras are rank strangers he is forced to live with while the father who raised him lives right down the street. The pain of all concerned is palpable as the family struggles to come to terms with guilt, anger, loss, and who "family" actually is. This story puts me in mind of King Solomon and the two women fighting over the baby. Will the "real"parents please stand up. What and who is "family?" The only parallel I can think of in real life are the cases where a child is given up for adoption and years later the birth parents decide they want the child back. I can't imagine a more selfish decision than to rip a child away from the only family they have ever known and force it to live with complete strangers. The author did a pretty fair job of getting into the heads of the Cappadora's as they slowly unravel as a family.

This is my 2nd time reading the book. I read it years ago and my perspective has certainly changed now that I am a mom, especially since I am the mom of a little boy. Though a tiny part of me could identify with Beth's non-functioning state after the disappearance of Ben (what mom wouldn't be completely devastated?), I was appalled at her lack of regard for her 2 other kids. I can't imagine not giving them the love and attention that they deserved; thus, it was difficult to like this character. I do applaud her regard for Sam later when she puts his needs and wants above her own.

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