Helpless by Barbara Gowdy


This was an interesting book to read, and as I sit here writing this book I’m still trying to decide what I make of it. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Celia is the struggling single mother of an exceptionally, angelically beautiful child: nine-year-old Rachel. All too aware of the precarious balance of the life she has built for the two of them, she worries about her daughter’s longing for the father she has never met. When Rachel disappears one summer night during a blackout, Celia is stricken with guilt and terror about what her choices might now mean for her daughter’s fate. The media coverage of the abduction is tremendous, running nationwide. Closely monitoring events is Ron, an appliance repairman who lives in the neighbourhood. Though Rachel is a stranger to him, he convinces himself that she is his responsibility. His feelings for her are at once tender, misguided and chillingly possessive. Tapping into the fears that lie just beneath the surface of modern urban life, HELPLESS is a haunting and provocative story of heart-stopping suspense.

The beginning of the book had me gripped and I got half way through the book quickly, however my interest started to wain around then and it was a bit of a struggle to finish the book.

Gowdy addresses some difficult issues – single parenting, child abduction and paedophiles. I felt she looked at these issues well, there was nothing offensive or heavy about how she dealt with these. I felt it was good to write a book about these things as they are a real threat in our society.

I have mixed feelings about the characters. I liked how Gowdy looked in depth at the Rachel, who went missing and Ron, the man who felt responsible for Rachel. However, others key characters such as Celia the mother and Mika the landlord and trusted friend lacked a little depth and I felt I did not know them as well.

This isn’t a long book, and was quite a good read. I didn’t like the ending, I do not think it was realistic. There were many other ways Gowdy could have ended the book, I just wasn’t convinced by it.


One thought on “Helpless by Barbara Gowdy”

  1. I would recommend Gowdy’s early stories, they give a better impression of her talent and uniqueness. Try WE SO SELDOM LOOK ON LOVE–it’s one of the books that really made her name here in Canada…

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