Little Lovely Things is the first novel by American poet and author, Maureen Joyce Connolly. It is any parent's worst nightmare: two young daughters in a car at a gas station, mother having passed out in the rest room from a medication reaction, wakes to find the car and the girls gone.
Lily Rawlings is just fifteen months old; her sister Andrea is four and a half; but despite police barricades quickly set up, there’s no sign of the girls or the car. Their parents, Claire and Glen are distraught at the possibilities. Witnesses are not reliable and the possible suspect has disappeared.
Without including spoilers, not a lot more can be said about the plot, but any reader who, from the back-cover blurb, thinks they know where this story is going will be mistaken. Already from the second chapter the reader knows who has taken the girls, but there are several surprises in store before the story reaches its exciting climax.
What can be said of this moving tale is that it features a Native American as a key character, a persistent old psychiatrist, some Irish Travellers and a touch of the paranormal. The Rawlings experience the double-edged sword of live media appearances and learn how feelings of guilt and self-recrimination, as well as unspoken blame, do damage to a marriage once thought strong.
What these abductors do, and the jaw-dropping ease with which they rationalise their actions, will stagger readers. Connolly easily conveys the emotions of the protagonists from various narrative perspectives. Her characters are believable for all their human flaws and weaknesses; the trauma and its aftermath see them grow and develop; the feisty Andrea and the young Lakota man are likely to be favourites.
A stirring and thought-provoking read, this is a brilliant debut novel that will have readers eager for more from this talented author.