Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Loving Natalee

Title: "Loving Natalee - a Mother's testament of hope and faith"
Author: Beth Holloway
Publisher: Harper Collins

“Loving Natalee” is Beth Holloway’s account of a mother’s horror of a teenage daughter missing in a foreign country.

Natalee Holloway was a bright, beautiful, eighteen year old living in Mountain Brook Alabama. The apple of her mother’s eye Natalee was your stereotypical “all American gal”; on her high school dance squad, an A+ student, committed church member. When a celebratory trip to Aruba in the Caribbean was planned after high school graduation in mid 2005, Natalee’s mother Beth had no hesitation in allowing the fiercely independent Natalee to go. Hers was daughter with her head about her and a strong sense of personal safety, right and wrong.

But on the last night of the Aruban holiday, Natalee leaves a local bar without her friends. Instead, a drunken Natalee gets into a vehicle with three local men she has met on the island.

Natalee is never seen or heard from again.

And so Beth Holloway’s nightmare begins. She narrates the story of every parent’s worst fears being realised; of learning of her daughter’s disappearance; dealing with an Aruban police force unwilling or unable to properly investigate; of three suspects who’s story, full of lies and half truths, continually changes; of a media storm unwittingly created by Beth as she tries to find anyone who can help them find her daughter.

Through the entire ordeal, Beth clings to hope and her strong religious convictions. This faith, and the support of both her home town community in Alabama and the local Aruban people, sustain her through the months of futile searching.

This story is very honestly told by Beth and she shares with the reader many deeply personal moments. I did become somewhat frustrated at times with her very blatant, biased opinion of Natalee; while every mother loves their child unwaveringly, I found that Beth viewed Natalee through very rose tinted glasses – you would think that Natalee was a perfect child, something which the media has speculated to be anything but accurate. She also gives very little credence to any alternative ideas of what may have happened to Natalee, fixatedly blaming the three men Natalee was last seen with and refusing to entertain any other scenario, no matter how plausible.

But putting aside these irritations, Loving Natalee is a heartfelt tribute to a mother’s grief at the mysterious disappearance of her teenage daughter. It is a mixed bag of emotion as both hope and despair jockey for position within the author on a daily basis as she searches the small Caribbean Island for Natalee and the truth as to what happened to her – a truth her mother is still searching for even today, over two years on.

1 comment:

Julian said...

Love the title and the cat with book pic! I've only managed to finish about 4 non study related books so far this year, good luck with the 52.