I didn’t think I could read What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan. There seemed to be many similarities between Ben, who disappeared without a trace while walking through the forest with his mom Rachel, and my son. I could understand and empathize with what Rachel was going through – and it was that that made me wonder if I could stomach finishing the book.

I stopped reading What She Knew for a month (HarperCollins sent the book to me early. When I realized it wasn’t being published until January, I stopped reading it to pick up books with a more timely publishing dates). I picked it back up, and was pulled right back into Rachel’s story, and that of DI Clemo, the officer who is part of the team looking for Ben. And while I considered stopping reading the book, it was fleeting; I couldn’t stop reading it, wanting to figure out who took Ben, and to find him myself. I wanted Rachel to have the happy ending she deserved. I wanted Ben to be fine.

What She Knew was a fabulous book, full of twists and turns and stupidity – stupidity of the people, who don’t think beyond themselves; of the media and what we are doing, or not doing, when reporting the news; of the public, who like to sit on top of their thrones and pass judgment on things they have no idea about.

I am torn as to who I am most angry at. I feel the media should know better. I feel we have a huge responsibility, and are beginning to lack integrity in our attempts to find a story before the other guy and seem offer our opinions on thing without all the facts. But I think I might be a bit more disgusted with the average person, who passes judgment based on information they find on the Internet, and most often not often from a trusted news site. I am angry that people continue to judge a person and their reactions when they have no idea what it’s like while  they are sitting in the comfort of their living rooms.

Years ago, a child from Toronto was kidnapped while walking to her friend’s house. A coworker at the time suggested the mother did it, and he based that opinion on how the mother behaved at a press conference, much like how Rachel was judged at the press conference after her son was abducted.

And I was – and still am – mad. How dare we judge? How dare we say how we would act in a situation that is beyond imagining? I hope to never have to be in Rachel’s situation. I also hope that people can think beyond themselves and realize the power of their words. I also hope if they feel these things, they just keep their mouths shut.

I feel the cabbie in this book, who was taking Rachel to see her ex-husband after he was attacked chasing down a person who threw a brick with the words ‘bad mother’ on it through the front window of Rachel’s house, said it best. The cabbie told Rachel, whom he didn’t recognize, that his wife thought Rachel killed her son, and he disagreed. In fact, he said, he had a disagreement with this wife about it.

“I said to her that if you’ve been called those things, accused like the mother is, you never get over it. That’s the shame of it. If she’s guilty, she deserves it; if she’s innocent, then people have done her wrong.”

In the case of the missing child from Toronto, the mother didn’t do it.

What She Knew

Gilly MacMillan