A missing child is a nightmare for any family. But what happens when they come back?
Eleven-year-old Elly is missing. After an extensive police search she is presumed dead, and her family must learn to live with a gaping hole in their lives. Her parents’ marriage is torn apart by grief, while her sister Ines swings between jealousy and guilt.
Then, four years later, Elly reappears. Her strange behavior is initially put down to the trauma of what has happened to her, but soon her family is plagued by doubts. Elly’s grandmother is sure this is not her granddaughter and her sister tests her with childhood games and memories, but her mother cannot bear the thought of losing her child again, and her father just wants the family back together again.
Is this dark-eyed stranger really the same little girl who went missing? And if not, who is she?
Elly is a gripping tale of grief, longing, and doubt, which takes every parent’s greatest fear and lets it play out to an emotionally powerful, memorable climax. It is a literary novel with all the best qualities of a thriller, and a fascinating exploration of how well we can ever truly know one another or ourselves.
“Elly is a book about the dark side of longing.”
—Hubert Spiegel, speech at the Robert Gernhardt Prize
“In few yet incredibly precise words, Maike Wetzel creates an oppressive tension around a family falling apart. A book that will not let you go.”
“Reminiscent of Ian McEwan’s A Child in Time, Elly will have wide appeal…Maike Wetzel’s fresh, original take on the popular literary theme of missing children is delivered in her clear, understated prose with its unflinching eye for detail.”
—New Books in German
“Wetzel tells the story of the loss of a child as a family drama from various perspectives, in permanent present tense.”
—Christoph Schröder, Süddeutsche Zeitung
“An elaborate mosaic about the unrelenting belief in a happy ending.”
“A highly focused and accurate novel about that which is not supposed to happen.”
—Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau Online
“Breathtaking. An intense, abysmal study of the trauma of abandonment and uncertainty.”
—Hansruedi Kugler, Luzerner Zeitung
“Wetzel’s powerful narrative style reminds of Judith Hermann, who does not waste a word, but uses unusual imagery to create atmospheres that express the unconscious, the inexpressible, the outrageous.”
“Maike Wetzel mercilessly writes about overwhelming pain and its destructive power.”
—Hans von Trotha, Deutschlandfunk Kultur
“Psychologically refined, linguistically brilliant.”
—Sylvia Schwab, Hessischer Rundfunk
“Wetzel’s literature gets right to the core of human existence…How she conveys primal fears and their consequences is captivating and unsettling. Her laconic, unruffled style is in contrast to the inner life of her protagonists…This book fits only too well in a time when assumed certainties and principles are shattered.”
—Michael Au, Südwestdeutscher Rundfunk
“The perfect book for those moments when you forget the world around you.”
—Lydia Herms, Deutschlandfunk Nova
“So haunting and touching, so captivating and intense that you cannot resist it.”
—Andrea Heußinger, Norddeutscher Rundfunk
“An enigmatic study, a polyphonic monologue.”
—Cornelia Zetzsche, Bayerischer Rundfunk
“A fascinating narrative revolving around the question whose story is being told—and to whom stories actually belong.”