Small spaces by Sarah Epstein

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Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781921977381
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Themes: Thriller, Confinement, Kidnapping, Drug use. When the Fisher family returns to their rural community along the mid north coast of New South Wales, Tash's fears reappear. The Fishers have come back to the place where their daughter Mallory was kidnapped but found alive a week later, her abduction unseen by anyone except Tash, or so she believes. Nine years later, Tash is still not trusted but she cannot push her memory of the events of that day out of her mind. She told the police that she had seen a man take the girl from the toilet block, but no one believed her, dismissing her words as attention seeking behaviour after the birth of her brother.
This tale of Tash's inability to dodge her mother's disapproval, her psychiatrist's ongoing reasoning and her own doubts suffuse this thriller. From the start, the reader is unsure just who is telling the truth and suspect each of the protagonists in turn of not being honest.
A strained relationship with her parents makes her life even harder so when her estranged aunt asks her to look after her dog for the weekend Tash goes, wanting to be away from her family and wanting to prove she can cope by herself. But it means going back to the place where Mallory was kidnapped.
Mallory's brother, Morgan has teamed with Tash for an art project and has promised that he will call and they can work on their project. But things happen at the house, a source of constant dispute between Tash's aunt and her father, and her fears resurface after her aunt's dog is targeted.
Meanwhile a bully at school keeps undermining Tash while her relationship with her best friend, Sadie, is tottering because of her her inability to put things out of her mind.
But when the bully is mugged and Tash returns to her aunt's house for Easter, events come to a head, ensuring everyone will keep reading to find out the truth.
This is a stunner of a read, drawing the reader into having to decipher truth and lies. Readers will eagerly read, marveling at the strength of Tash in keeping herself together, despite all the suspicions and doubts that hang about her, urging her to unlock the mystery that has kept her constrained for nine years.
For those who are not happy about confined spaces then this book needs to be read with caution, as it is true to its title and the passages where several of the characters are confined in small spaces are seriously creepy.
Fran Knight