Lisa Scottoline has outdone herself with this suspenseful masterpiece, Look Again. The main character, Ellen Gleeson, centers her world around her adopted son, Will, and her job as a journalist. Readers will easily identify with her struggle to balance her love for her three-year old son and her desire to do the right thing. That connection to the reader personalizes everything Ellen endures. With every move, the reader is there with her, urging her on and crying with her when things go horribly wrong.
As Ellen rifles through her mail, a postcard for a missing child catches her eye — and turns her world upside down. The child staring back at her bares an uncanny resemblance to her son. But how? Two years ago, after he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition, Will had been abandoned by his unwed mother. The birth mother had signed the papers; the adoption was legal. The aged-progression photo could not be Ellen’s son. Could it?
From the very first paragraph when Ellen opens her mail, the reader is sucked into Ellen’s turmoil. I found myself asking, “What would I do?” If Ellen remains quiet, she would always be looking over her shoulder, and the thought of the other mother, and her pain, would haunt Ellen forever. Yet, if Ellen pursues the truth and discovers the child is, in fact, her son, she will risk losing him. As a mother and a reporter, Ellen just cannot let it go as a mere coincidence. She must find the truth at all costs. Her son and her life may depend on it.
Amidst this life-shattering problem, Ellen must also deal with an unstable situation at her newspaper. Layoffs are a real threat, but the editor, a suave Brazilian named Marcelo, seems to be attracted to Ellen. To make matters worse, Ellen must deal with a co-worker who seems bent on undercutting her at every turn. This was not a time to take off work for personal reasons, but what choice does Ellen have? Her son must come first.
The investigation takes Ellen, and the reader, on a rollercoaster of discovery. Each new piece of the puzzle ratchets up the tension. Ellen learns that the woman, who signed Will’s adoption papers as his birthmother, was most likely barren. Unfortunately, there’s no way to question her, because she is dead as a result of mysterious circumstances and so is the lawyer who helped with the adoption.
It is then that Ellen begins to suspect that there is someone who will do anything to stop her from learning the truth. Ellen even discovers that the possible birth parents are not what they seem. Unfortunately, the damage is done, and by choosing to pursue the truth, Ellen has unleashed a chain of events she cannot control. A chain of events that could cost her everything — including her life.
Readers will definitely find themselves unable to put this book down and will connect to Ellen in a way that will leave them reeling. The plot twist at the end also promises to catch everyone by surprise. That is the point where the reader will finally be able to decide who, indeed, should have custody of Will. Of course, it isn’t up to the reader — or Ellen….
St. Martin’s Griffin: New York. 2009