Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother’s Disappearance as a Child

Scribner. Aug. 2019. 320p. photos. ISBN 9781501198717. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501198731. MEMOIR
Cumming (The Vanishing Velazquez) deftly tells the story of her mother Betty’s childhood abduction in this latest work. Part memoir, part family history, Cumming examines her mother’s unique childhood, including her abduction from an English beach in 1929 at age three and return home just a few days later, and finding out decades later, after a childhood raised in isolation, that Betty’s parents had been hiding the fact that their daughter was both kidnapped and adopted, with her name changed from Grace to Betty. Cumming uses her skills as a writer and investigator as fuel to seek out the truths surrounding her mother’s childhood, and how those events have rippled through the family ever since, especially since no one was ever accused of the crime. The use of photographs and art assist readers in visualizing the story and add depth to the characters.
VERDICT With its unique combination of artistry, investigation, and memoir, this story is likely to appeal to a wide range of readers and is recommended as a general purchase for large collections.

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