The Deep End of the Ocean, Jacquelyn Mitchard's wrenching first novel, flies in the face of everything movies and your better class of talk shows say about bad things that happen to good people ... Although The Deep End of the Ocean arrives with all the trail marks of a soon-to-be-major motion picture (Michelle Pfeiffer's production company is in on the movie deal), the book is not so much a thriller as a gut wrencher ... The first half...is wonderfully written. The scenes in the hotel lobby throb with a panic that actually starts with the reader, who already knows what's going to happen, and then spreads to the happily oblivious Beth, her friends, and finally the reluctant-to-accept-trouble hotel staff ... The resolution of the kidnapping comes halfway through the book, and its improbability reflects badly on everything that went before. Beth, whose insistence on carrying her stony misery had seemed almost heroic, begins to look more and more like a pain in the neck. Her long-suffering husband is a blur. The fact that Detective Bliss seems to have been transplanted from some other book becomes more noticeable. Ben, whose portrait as a perfect 3-year-old seemed like a mother's natural editing of the memories of a lost child, turns out to be improbably saintly at 12, too. Only Vincent, Ben's older brother, keeps the story moving ... Fortunately, Vincent's aching, sassy perspective takes over more and more of the book as it stumbles to an upbeat conclusion.
...explores every mother's harrowing nightmare: the abduction of a child. Yet there is another layer to The Deep End of the Ocean No thriller, this is a complex examination of family relationships. Along with exploring the aftermath of a child's disappearance, the book looks at the effect of a child's reappearance years later. Like life, the book does not provide easy answers. The character of the mother is equally true to life. She is flawed, not perfect.
One of the most remarkable things about this rich, moving and altogether stunning first novel is Mitchard's assured command of narrative structure and stylistic resources ... a blockbuster read ... Mitchard imbues her suspenseful plot with disturbingly candid psychological truths about motherhood and family relationships. Displaying an infallible ear for family conversation and a keen eye for domestic detail, she writes dialogue that vibrates with natural and unforced humor and acerbic repartee. She charts the subtle and minute gradations of maternal love with candor and captures the essence of teenage experiences and lingo. The novel becomes a universal tale of traumatic loss and its effects on individuals and families, an astute inquiry into the wellsprings of identity and a parable of redemption through suffering and love. Readers who explore the uncharted reaches of 'the deep end of the ocean' with the Cappadoras will find this compelling and heartbreaking story...impossible to put down. Mitchard...has a wise and compassionate heart and talent to spare.
Madison, Wisconsin, newspaper columnist Mitchard...makes a splash with her first novel--a lush melodrama centered around the kidnapping of a three-year-old boy--and keeps us turning the pages long after the brain synapses have gone to sleep ... Workaday prose and fist-clenching earnestness combine to make this an exceptionally promising movie treatment, if not a work of literary greatness. Mitchard's Good Mother-like eye for hot family melodrama should keep her rolling in dough.