Have a tissue handy. You will need it for “The Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I picked this book from a book club flyer many years ago. It had a very brief description. A pretty basic paragraph stating that a woman loses her son, only to have him appear years later. It sounded interesting. This was long before the movie, and long before Oprah had decided to add it to her book club list. Lucky for me, I read the book before I watched the movie. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is really good, but it is only a slight comparison to the book. I highly recommend reading this book. You will begin reading and get hooked before the third chapter, and before you know it you’ve gone through a box of tissues. Never judge a book by its cover, or its title.
“The Deep End of the Ocean” begins in June of 1985 with our husband and wife Beth and Pat. Beth is trying to make arrangements for her fifteen year high school reunion. She wants to take the three children Ben, Vincent and Kerry to Chicago for this reunion. Pat thinks this is the extreme, but he will keep this to himself. He is looking forward to having forty-eight hours to himself, to do as he pleases.
Beth arrives at the hotel to check in, with all three children in tow. She becomes overwhelmed with excitement when she begins to run in to old friends. Just within the first chapter, the author has sucked you in. You, the reader, can begin to imagine the chaos going around all the excitement from the reunion as if you were there yourself. There are bell boys all over getting and bringing in bags. There are people running around trying to figure out where they are to go. There are old classmates screaming with excitement at the site of seeing old friends. Beth is getting frustrated, and has yet to check in. She then asks Vincent to please watch Ben while she goes to the counter to check in. He doesn’t really want to, and you are already under the impression he wanted to just stay home with dad. Beth is gone ten minutes at the max. When she returns Vincent is standing alone. He never even noticed Ben’s departure.
The next chapter jumps right in to tracking Ben. And for pages and pages, we have no luck. Hours go by. Days go by turning into months, then years. Vincent begins to get pushed aside. And as he gets older, he can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble. He spends his entire life thinking it was his fault Ben was lost. Pat blames only Beth, and the marriage begins to take a turn for the worst. Beth, tries to go on with life, and only blames herself. She must also live with the fact that everyone deep down blames her as well.
Life has gone on, without Ben. The hope is still there, but it has been ten years. Statistically kids are not found, dead or alive, after a few years. Beth has poured herself into her photography, just to deal with life. She has developed a wonderful eye. This is a key element in the finding of Ben.
One day, out of nowhere, this boy shows up and wants to cut the grass. You know she sees something in the boy’s eyes. You can feel exactly what she is feeling. Is it possible? Is this Ben? She tells the kid to come back, and she begins asking where he came from. He’s not so new in town, and lives right down the road. He comes back to mow the lawn and she is sneaking pictures of him, comparing him. She contacts the law…and off they go.
We learn the boy from down the street is her missing son, Ben. How can we all deal with the fact that he was right under our noses all along? To know how this all came about – you have to read the book. In real life, this is a million to one chance of ever happening. That is one crucial point to keep you interested. Ben comes home. Ten years later. Says good-bye to the life he knew, and hello to one he does not. Everything happens so fast, no one can catch up.
The remainder of the book tries to catch up. It details everyone’s life now that Ben is back. Life has changed and is turned upside down, just as it was ten years ago when he vanished.
You have to read the book for the rest! A definite page turner.
Disclaimer: I was not given a book or compensation for this review. All opinions are 100% my own. This article was originally published on Helium, which has closed. Article is no longer published online and has found its new home here.