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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Beth Cappadora, a mother of three, takes her children with her to her fifteenth high school reunion, excited to finally spend time with friends and get a break from being a mother. But everything changes in a moment .. she leaves her older son, Vincent, who is 5 holding Ben's hand, who is 3. A friend had already taken Kerry, the baby, upstairs to nap. When she returns from the front desk 5 minutes later Ben is nowhere to be found. Everyone searches, people ask questions, police come .. and her husband, Pat, arrives to participate in the search. At first the policemen are helpful and assuring her that they'll find him .. but as time continues, things become more serious.

Fast forward ten years or so .. and Ben shows up on their doorstep offering to mow their lawn. He lives two blocks down the street. But he isn't Ben any longer. He is Sam. And although they can piece together what happened and how, that doesn't mean Sam/Ben remembers any of it or wants to move in with his new/old family. A classmate stole him, and is in a mental institution, and Sam lives with his father who knows nothing about it. The only person they can blame is crazy and catatonic. What would it be like to live with the guilt that 'I caused this horrible event to happen' for ten years? Both Beth and Vincent live with this guilt. And even Pat, who wasn't there at the time. But they aren't able to talk about it, so each responds differently. Beth stops being a mother, stops caring about life, stops feeling anything. She figures that she was a mother to Ben and because of that he was hurt, so if she stops being a mother to her other two children they won't be hurt as badly. Pat retreats into his work, into dreaming up a new Italian wedding themed restaurant with his family that does brilliantly. Because he works in the restaurant business he is always working and always busy, and he is glad for that. Vincent, on the other hand, knows his mother both before and after .. and knows that she is nothing but a shell. He acts out, gets into fights, challenges everyone and everything. Nobody can make him stop, although his counselor, Tom, finally gets him to face facts and remember what happened and speak it out. At the end of the book it's revealed that Vincent considers it his job to protect his family in any way that he can .. growing up too quickly because his parents didn't really care for him as parents and he had to parent himself. A very interesting psychological story .. including the effects of what happens when Ben is reintroduced into the story. They can't just pick up where they left off .. so how do they pick up? Where do they begin? Can they deal with the new stress and the loss of old stress? And there's even a hopeful ending, which I was glad for :)

Title:The Deep End of the Ocean
Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard
Date published:1996
Genre: Fiction
Number of pages: 434
Notes: brought by sue


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