This extraordinary book works on many levels. It is, first and foremost, a loving tribute to Gemma’s sister Milly, who was abducted and murdered in 2002. From the moment Milly went missing she became ‘public property’, never far from the news headlines, defined by the words: missing, murdered, and hacked. But for Gemma’s family this was not the Milly that they recognised. Their Milly was funny, talented, eccentric, caring, loving and much-loved. So this is Gemma setting the record straight: It is their Milly – the real Milly - who shines out from the pages of this book, defined not by her tragic death but by her beautiful life.
The book raises profound questions about what constitutes ‘public interest’. The Dowlers suffered not only the loss of their daughter and sister in the most awful of circumstances, but the intrusion of the press, the invasion of their privacy and the hacking of their (and Milly’s) phones. It raises concerns about the police incompetence that allowed Milly’s killer to evade justice for so long, and the flaws in the legal system that continue to protect sordid paedophiles yet force the victims of their crimes to take the stand in court. It raises concerns about the prejudices inherent in our society that led police to suspect members of Milly’s family, and attitudes voiced by some members of the public who implied that Milly was to blame for her own abduction on account of the way that she dressed .
As a victim impact statement this is one of the most powerful, hard-hitting accounts I have read. It should be made compulsory reading for police forces and journalists across the land so that no-one else has to endure the nightmare that the Dowlers were forced to go through. Yet the remarkable quality of this book is that Gemma does not define herself as a victim. This is an articulately written, searingly honest book about love, truth and courage; of a family’s resilience and survival in the face of unimaginable suffering, and, above all, their love for Milly. I’m sure she would be very proud of them.