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Don't Let Me Go    by Susan Lewis order for
Don't Let Me Go
by Susan Lewis
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Don't Let Me Go is a sequel to No Child of Mine by Susan Lewis. The first novel introduced highly committed social worker, Alex Lake, who had a tragic past.

Alex became more and more embroiled in the case of a mute, but engaging child, three-year-old Ottilie Wade, as her own life disintegrated. Young Ottilie was horribly abused by her father, a pedophile, but it took a long time for this fact to emerge. Soon after Alex was contacted by her own long estranged mother Anna, matters came to a crisis. Impulsively, Alex took and hid Ottilie, believing that only she could help her and lying to the police who were searching for the child. With her adoptive sister's help, Alex fled with Ottilie to her mother's home in New Zealand.

As Don't Let Me Go opens, Alex is now Charlotte Nicholls and life is good in Te Puna Bay with young Chloe. They have both been warmly welcomed by Anna's husband Bob (a winemaker), his son Rick (an advertising executive in Auckland) and daughter Shelley and her family. Though they are on the run, Charlotte feels safe and loved and Chloe, though still fearful of most men, is improving in every way. But Charlotte finds it hard to warm to Rick's English fiancée Katie, and it's she who turns them out of paradise.

After a misunderstanding arouses Katie's jealousy of Charlotte, she decides to look into her background. This leads to the uncovering of her identity. As her worst nightmare unfolds, Charlotte/Alex is arrested and deported to England, and Chloe/Ottilie is also returned there and placed back in foster care. As Alex's family desperately tries to help her, she is vilified in the media, while Ottilie's situation steadily worsens through a series of poor foster care placements. The reader's heart goes out to both of them.

How is this all resolved? You'll have to read the novel to find out, but it is highly satisfying and involves the reappearance of someone from Alex's past, who helps her and the child she loves so dearly in ways that only he can. Don't Let Me Go is a gripping, heart wrenching and heartwarming novel.

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