Between Here and April, by Deborah Copaken Kogan.
It's hard for anyone to know where allusion ends and reality begins, let alone a small child. - from Between Here and April, page 25 -
Elizabeth Burns, a journalist who has given up traveling the world to cover war stories in order to be there for her two children, begins suffering blackouts one day. When medical tests show there is no physical reason for her fainting spells, Elizabeth seeks psychiatric help. What she discovers is a long buried memory of the disappearance of her best friend April when she was six years old. Driven to seek out the truth, Elizabeth begins to research April's disappearance and uncovers a horrible truth -- the disappearance was actually a murder committed by the girl's own mother. Elizabeth's journey to uncover the truth and understand the mind of a woman who would kill her own child opens a floodgate of unresolved issues for Elizabeth -- a failing marriage, a brutal gang rape, and questions of her own ability to mother.
Between Here and April is a novel which reaches into the dark recesses of the human mind and looks at one of the most difficult to understand crimes: filicide. Deborah Copaken Kogan brings to the novel her own background of journalism (she is the author of the bestselling memoir Shutterbabe which explored her life as a war photographer), and a history which includes a murdered childhood friend. In mining her own experiences, Kogan brings to her writing an honesty and clarity that transforms the novel into something that feels like a true crime story.
Between Here and April is provocative, tough to read and at times uncomfortable as it explores the subjects of sexual perversity, rape, child abuse, discrimination against women, and the unrelenting demands placed on mothers. Filicide is a crime which is almost unspeakable -- and yet Cogan takes this topic head-on and seeks to find empathy for the woman who would be driven to commit such an act.
"Mrs. Cassidy had one arm wrapped around each of her daughters. The two girls ... were lying on pillows, their feet toward the tailgate. They were dressed in flannel pajamas." She held them while she killed them. She loved them, even as she was suffocating them. But she must have hated herself more. - from Between Here and April, page 223 -
Cogan's writing is sharp, intuitive and hypnotic. I always enjoy novels written by journalists who have honed their writing skills to get to the core of the story quickly, and who know how to create tension and conflict between characters. This is not a book for everyone. Many readers will be disturbed by the images Cogan creates. The subject matter will turn many readers off. But those readers willing to follow Cogan into the darkness will be rewarded with a story not soon forgotten.
Four stars out of five.
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".