The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

"Maybe it's not just me, perhaps many women keep shrines for their daughters."

Since the runaway success of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, it seems like publishers have been eager to compare their thrillers to that novel. How many times have you seen a book's cover call it "The next Gone Girl"? Publishers have even gone a far as putting the word "girl" in the title in hopes of drawing a comparison (I'm looking at you The Girl on the Train). And so I when I received a review copy of Kate Hamer's debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat, I was prepared for another disappointing Gone Girl imitation. What I got instead was a brutally honest novel about love and loss that shook me to my core.

The novel follows a single mother Beth and her eight-year-old daughter Carmel. Carmel is a precocious child who seems to march to the beat of her own drum. Guided by her own curiosities, the young girl has even been known to stray from her mother's protective view. One day the unthinkable happens. While exploring a storytelling festival, Beth loses sight of Carmel's bright red coat. At first, it seems exactly like the times that the girl has wandered away before. Beth fully expects to worry her head off for a few minutes only to have Carmel pop back into view, oblivious to her mother's paranoia. But this time, things are different. This time, Carmel really is gone.

Chapters in the novel alternate between the perspectives of mother and child. Like the young Jack in Emma Donoghue's Room, Carmel views the situation with a youthful wonder. Hamer skillfully captures the mind of the young child as she grapples with the fear of being alone in the world and longs to find her mother. These portions illustrate the child's ability to adapt to the harrowing situation. We read on, unable to intervene in the girl's journey as Carmel's youthful ignorance guides her frustratingly further from her home.

The ultimate success of this novel hinges on Beth's heartbreaking story. Her chapters bring insight into the mind of a woman whose life has been upturned. She is emotionally broken and desperately clings to any hope of finding her daughter. It is in these chapters that Kate Hamer truly shines. She writes of the madness that can come with grief and desperation, truly capturing the isolation and hopelessness of loss.

"I don't think we can feel guilty, Beth. Not for anything we feel or anything we think. No one else knows. No one. And if they say they do they're liars."

The Girl in the Red Coat is a stunning novel that is written with an honesty that strips the character's feelings to the bare bones. The quick pace of the prose deceptively leads the reader towards sudden walls of inescapable emotion that can't be bypassed. I found myself pondering my own losses throughout my life, especially the ones that came out of nowhere. While this novel can be intense and the situations difficult to reconcile, it is the unrelenting love of a mother for her child that ultimately shines through. Despite all of the sorrow and heartache in the world, love will always remain.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of this novel, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Open to US residents. No PO boxes please. Ends 3/15. After being contacted, winner will have 48 hours to respond.

For more information, visit Amazon and GoodReads.
This review is part of TLC Book Tours.

(2016, 8)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 and is filed under ,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

6 Responses to “The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer”

  1. As I said on Amazon, this review helped me to determine that I indeed do want to read this book!

  2. I have been reading raves about this book.

  3. Thanks for the giveaway. Great review! I'm hoping to read this too!

  4. That undercurrent of love and hope is so important to me in a story like this.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  5. I so need to read this, not only because it sounds like a great book but because of this from the review: "I found myself pondering my own losses throughout my life, especially the ones that came out of nowhere."
    Isn't that the definition of a great book, one that causes readers to examine their own lives, losses, sorrows, joys, etc.?

    1. I couldn't agree more! I love when a book surprises me with emotion.


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