Picks and Pans Review: The Deep End of the Ocean

updated 07/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Where is Ben Cappadora? One minute the toddler is sitting on a luggage trolley in the Tremont Hotel holding his older brother Vincent's hand, the next he's gone, turning his mother's 15th high school reunion into the worst nightmare of her life. In her fiction debut, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Jacquelyn Mitchard delivers a drama that has the tension of a thriller but moves more deeply into the emotional territory of family ties.

As the search for the missing child builds and wanes, the author dissects his parents' intense feelings as well as those of his brother Vincent, who becomes a troubled teen haunted by his role in the disappearance. While Mitchard makes the family anguish palpable, the horror is hardly unrelieved—the book follows the Cappadoras for nearly a decade; and there's an eye-popping twist that, though it doesn't answer every prayer, ends the agony of uncertainty about Ben's fate. (Viking, $23.95)

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