Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath is a cuckoo-in-the-nest psychological thriller. It’s the story of a family pushed into meltdown by the unexpected arrival of an 11-year old love child.
The action takes place in London during the 2011 riots. The central character and narrator is Dr Cat Lupo, an expert in child personality disorders.
Cat is married to Tom and they have a pre-teen daughter, Freya.
The story begins when Ruby Winter, an 11-year old girl turns up on Cat and Tom’s doorstep. Cat is shocked to learn that Ruby is Tom’s love child. She barely has time to process the news before Ruby moves in.
This is because Ruby’s mother, Linda, has just been found dead. Her only other relative is her grandmother and while Cat is keen for the grandmother to become Ruby’s guardian, it seems no one else wants to go along with that idea.
No such thing as evil?
Against her better judgment, Cat allows Ruby to stay. But almost immediately, things happen that make her fear Ruby’s influence on Freya. Although Cat’s professional background tells her there’s no such thing as evil, instinct tells her otherwise.
Soon, with family headed for meltdown, Cat finds herself caught up in a race against time to save Freya.
Initially, I thought that Give me The Child was off to a slightly shaky start — there seemed to be too many characters and not enough information about some of them. But the storyline and main characters are interesting and within a few pages, I was hooked. The more I read, the more I would have liked a bit more backstory about Tom’s relationship with Cat and also his relationship with Ruby and Ruby’s mother, but I guess it’s a sign of believable characters that I found myself wanting to know more. Overall, I enjoyed this novel. If it had a prequel, I’d be inclined to read it!
[Disclosure: The publisher, Harper Collins provided an advance copy for the purpose of this review].