The Daugther Between Them: A Missing Girl and Two Determined Mothers

In the theme of Mother’s Day, Alretha Thomas’ latest release, The Daughter Between Them, highlights the intricacies about parenthood and mental illness. Featuring two mothers, The Daughter Between Them is a mystery thriller that highlights mental illness and its effect on the community. To fully appreciate the character’s decisions and experiences, the book has two points of views. There are also two separate timelines that converge both families into one. 

A missing daughter, two worried mothers

Set in modern day in Dancing Hills, California, the story starts with Leslie’s determination to become Dancing Hill Times’s first African American news editor. Leslie Graham’s dream career is in her arm’s reach, and she has two beautiful daughters: Rhonda and Jillian, living with her. For nine years, Leslie kept her head down and worked hard to provide for her family as a single mom. There is an undercurrent of worry that sets the tone for the book. Barbara’s story starts at chapter 3, but at an earlier time in the story. 

While Leslie is the epitome of a loving mother, Barbara struggles to obtain love from anyone. Barbara frequently brings up her issues with mental health and how it affects her. Alretha says: “My inspiration for the story is more bitter than sweet. In the wake of mass shootings and ever growing violence in the U.S. and now Australia with the Mall and Church Stabbings, much of which is a result of unchecked mental illness, I was inspired to write a thriller wherein the antagonist is battling mental illness.”

Female Focused Fiction

In The Daughter Between Them, the central narrative features two mothers with polar opposite characteristics. Both the hero and the villain are mothers with vast differences. When I asked why, Alretha explained that: “ I love writing women focused fiction, so it was a natural choice to have the abuser be a woman, and yes, I think it’s important to shed light on the fact that women are abusers too.”

While it may unsettle some to know that not all mothers are heroes, some are villains,  it is not uncommon. The most recent case was a mother who left her 16-month-old daughter alone while she went for a ten-day holiday. This book is not for people who are looking for a hug-it-out story. I too struggled to accept the horrendous decisions Barbara makes and how she tries to justify them. 

Ultimately, The Daughter Between Them is a gritty book that highlights the complications of the human psyche and the multifaceted nature of parenthood. Alretha challenges the readers to empathize and sympathize with the characters in the story. Both Leslie and Barbara show grit and determination to put their plan into fruition.

Alretha says: “As a writer, I don’t judge my characters, whether it’s the antagonist or the protagonist. It wasn’t difficult for me to navigate through the villain’s mind because I understood her. I bought into her backstory. Writing first person allows me to become the characters. So when I wrote her, I was her and in her world, everything she’s doing is sane and justified at least up to a point.”


The Daughter Between Them explores the profound life of women in society, and it also compels you to think about the complexities of parenthood and mental illness. Through the contrasting perspectives of Leslie and Barbara, Alretha highlights the interplay of personal history and societal influence, challenging readers to empathize with characters. As I journey alongside Leslie and Barbara, I have a deeper appreciation for the resilience and determination of a mother. 

If you’re looking for a riveting read that deftly explores the nuances of maternal identity and the far-reaching effects of mental health, The Daughter Between Them is an essential addition to your reading list. It is available on Amazon starting today. 

Checkout other books by Alretha I have reviewed:

A Penny for Her Heart

The Women on Retford Drive

The Truth About Gretchen

To know about about author:

Alretha Thomas’ Website. 

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