Sunday, May 31, 2009

After Etan

After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive
by Lisa R. Cohen

Grand Central Publishing
May 2009
400 pages (per amazon my copy has 367)

info on May 29m 2009: Sales Rank: #689 in Books

Popular in these categories:
#2 in Books > Nonfiction > True Accounts > True Crime
#3 in Books > Nonfiction > True Accounts > Murder & Mayhem
#24 in Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology

There is a longer post on my blog, mainly the product description.

From John Miller, former co-anchor of 20/20: "The story of the disappearance of Etan Patz is a story that almost everyone remembers the beginning of and only a handful of people know the end of. For the first time, Lisa Cohen finally unravels a complex and tangled mystery while seamlessly telling the heart wrenching story of a family trying to cope with every parent's worst nightmare. The vivid descriptions and the incredible detail make you feel like you are there every step of the way. The book pulls you in. It can be painful at times and still, you can't put the book down."


"Julie walks Etan down the three flights to the front door. He isn't tall enough to reach the lock himself... She sees the familiar figures of other parents and their children beginning to congregate near the bus stop, which is just barely out of sight around the corner..." Her friend and neighbor, Karen, was going to pick Etan up from the bus stop after school. When 3:30 p.m. comes around, Julie's concerned but thinks the buses are delayed since it is the first week back since the strike. Finally, she phones Karen. Karen assumed that when Etan hadn't gotten off the bus he had gone to another friend's, as he often did, for a semi-regular playdate. With Julie on the line, she asked her daughter if she knew where Etan had gone after school. "Etan wasn't in school today".

At 3:50 p.m., on a Friday before a three-day weekend, she calls the police to report her son missing. Now it was almost 4:30 p.m. and the cops still hadn't shown up. You see, way back when, the cops first thoughts were custody dispute or run away. What's the hurry, you'll find him at a friends house, what's one more in a crowd of kids - some other mother just forgot to call you to say he was at her house. By the time the police get there, there is no one at the school office to confirm Etan's absence. Luckily, one of the officers remembered he knew the janitor and they were able to get in. Absence confirmed. Etan never showed up to school.

Twenty years later, they still don't know what happened to their little boy.

This is a heartwrenching story but also a story of survival and triumph, friendship and hope. May 25, 1979 may have been the day innocence died for many but it is also the day eyes were opened. Okay, not exactly on the 25th but Etan was the catalyst for many of our child safety laws, including the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He's why we teach our kids "good touch, bad touch" and "stranger danger". It is a must read for all who work with or have children, not to make you paranoid, but to make you aware. In Julie's own words, "They have to grow and gain confidence in themselves. You can't lock them in the house or in class. They'll never learn how to fend for themselves. Walk with them. Teach them how to protect themselves. Give them a life." (page 346)


LCohen said...

Lisa Cohen here - thanks so much for this. And especially for spreading the multi-layered message about child safety. As a reporter, this incredible tale fascinated me, moved me, and left me shaking my head that you can't make this stuff up! Ultimately I just had to write it all down.

I hope your readers will follow your lead!

Cindy B said...

What a terrifying story. I like to think that we have learned to be more careful now, but things like this sadly still happen. At least the police are more aware of how to respond now.

Book Dragon said...

Lisa, that's for the wonderful comment on my blog.

Cindy, it is thanks to Etan, and others who came forward at that time, that parents, teachers, police and strangers know better how to respond.

It's too sad that the bad guys are still out there. The good guys just need to be ever watchful.