‘Nowhere Child’ is Chris­tian White’s stun­ning de­but

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Spotlight - BY OLINE H. COGDILL

A young woman’s fond mem­o­ries of her happy child­hood and lov­ing par­ents are turned up­side down when she learns she may have been kid­napped more than 28 years ago in “The Nowhere Child,” a stun­ning de­but by Chris­tian White.

The per­cep­tive plot of “The Nowhere Child” works well as a story about the ex­tremes that one will

go to pro­tect loved ones as well as a tale about what makes a fam­ily. White skill­fully cre­ates a cred­i­ble story filled with sur­prises and re­al­is­tic char­ac­ters worth car­ing about.

Kim Leamy has a quiet life teach­ing pho­tog­ra­phy at a school in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia. Her lov­ing mother, Carol, re­cently died but she has a solid re­la­tion­ship with her sup­port­ive step­fa­ther, Dean. While she isn’t as close to her half-sis­ter Amy, she knows she can al­ways count on her.

Kim’s life changes when she is ap­proached by an Amer­i­can, James Finn, who tells her that she may be Sammy Went, who was kid­napped from her home in Ken­tucky when she was 2.

Kim doesn’t be­lieve him. She has her birth cer­tifi­cate and her fam­ily has al­ways lived in Aus­tralia.

Not only does James have reams of pa­per­work, he also has a DNA sam­ple that he sur­rep­ti­tiously took from her that def­i­nitely proves that Kim is Sammy, and that he is her brother.

Kim finds it hard to be­lieve that the warm, happy home in which she was raised was the re­sult of a crime. She agrees to go to Ken­tucky with James to find out what could have hap­pened.

White seam­lessly moves “The Nowhere Child” from the present, as Kim tries to piece to­gether a life­time of lies, back to the in­ci­dents 28 years ago that may have led to an ab­duc­tion.

White shows life in a small Ken­tucky town, the Went fam­ily di­vided by re­li­gious fa­nati­cism and a spir­i­tual leader who en­cour­ages snake han­dling with­out de­rid­ing small towns or re­li­gion.

De­spite the ev­i­dence that James presents, sus­pense mounts as the plot ex­plores the decades-old se­crets that the Went fam­ily held close.

Kim’s con­fu­sion over whether to doubt her child­hood or ac­cept this new dys­func­tional fam­ily adds to the ten­sion in “The Nowhere Child.”

MINO­TAUR AP

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