‘This is obviously a terrifying situation… we wish we had more information to give you but, all we can say is a mum has apparently turned up to collect her little girl from daycare and she’s not there…’
With this fragment of a news report, the reader is launched into the world of Emma Cardwell, one of the hosts of the Stella Network’s breakfast show, Cuppa. Her day runs like clockwork from the moment she wakes at 3am, as prepares for work and quietly kisses her three children goodbye. But, as the day progresses, some unexpected issues arise, culminating in her arrival home at 8pm where she discovers that Brandon forgot to pick their seventeen month old daughter up from daycare. As it becomes evident that Crayon and Clay is closed, Emma’s anxiety escalates and the police engage on an urgent search, knowing that the first twenty four hours is a crucial time in a missing person’s case. As the search intensifies, the paparazzi turn up and matters become increasingly complicated. Everyone has a different agenda.
The Ones You Trust is a gripping story. It has a unique and dynamic style that contributes to the atmosphere and adds meaning to the story. It is divided into three parts. Before is the introduction and sets the scene, describing Emma Cardwell’s day, including the discovery, that Brandon forgot to pick Fox-Piper up from daycare. During is the body of the story and contains reports of events as they unfold. The chapters are formatted differently to the introduction. In the second section, each chapter is headed by a fragment of a news report and peppered with different viewpoints like a live feed switching from camera to camera. Presenting a narrative from more than one viewpoint can be challenging, but Overington expertly switches between viewpoints mid-chapter without breaking the flow. The style she has used creates a specific effect that enhances the story. It is like a news reporter summarises the current story and then crosses live to different reporters who report the action as it happens.
The third part, After, is like a conclusion and contain excerpts from the months after Fox-Piper went missing. It doesn’t sum up events, but instead reveals extra pieces of information that cause the reader to question the events that unfolded before them. There is a confusing piece of evidence that doesn’t fit and interactions between key players that reveal various twists and unexpected alliances. Each detail changes the perspective and the story, like a game of Chinese whispers, becomes distorted and almost unrecognisable. This is a clever technique that resembles the subjective nature of media stories. The story unfolded so quickly and smoothly that there wasn’t time to question what was going on. Each piece of information added to the story and was analysed in light of the current interpretation, and thus a lot of assumptions were made.
There were some interesting family dynamics within the story, which is representative of many modern families. Emma and Brandon were two working parents, one of whom has taken a step back from their career to make the family run smoother. This has impacted their relationship. Their household was chaotic. The care of their three children was a tangled net of parents, school or daycare and the nanny, who was frequently exchanged, with the emergency support of family and their extended network.
Another interesting theme was the pursuit of celebrities by the paparazzi. Both are locked into this strange chase driven by the obsession of the public and the networks desire for ratings.
In summary, The Ones You Trust is a fast-paced, riveting story that provides plenty of food for thought. It will not disappoint.