Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


A Novel

Barbara Gowdy



Trade Paperback

Rachel is a nine-year-old girl whose luminous beauty inspires every form of admiration. One summer night, when a summer blackout plunges the city into darkness and confusion, her most fervent admirer--a middle-aged appliance repairman named Ron--abducts her from her home. Set over the next two weeks, Helpless moves between the perspectives of Rachel, her mother, Celia, and Ron, whose feelings for Rachel grow less innocent by the day. Tapping into the fear that resides just below the surface of contemporary city life, Helpless is a "brilliantly realized thriller about every parent's nightmare" (Calgary Herald).


Praise for Helpless

“What [Barbara Gowdy] does, with bravery and compassion, is explore the immense impact that obsessive love can have on innocent--and not-so-innocent--people.” —People

“Rich in characters . . . Terror and empathy move in lockstep through the final pages of this deeply perceptive novel.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“The reader is gripped by the characters and Gowdy's technical sophistication.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Although she maintains a palpable level of tension . . . [Gowdy] offers a more nuanced psychological focus on a quartet whose relations to one another are both oddly distant and profoundly intimate.” —Los Angeles Times

“Deftly and with the illusion of innocence, [Gowdy] renders the alien native. Hers is a peacemaking genius, unique in its talent for the transition of strangeness to second nature, repulsiveness to sorrow, and insane to ordinary.” —Lydia Millet, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“A nail-biting story told with wonderful quirkiness.” —Lionel Shriver, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Harrowing and compelling.” —Chicago Tribune

“A page-turner that finds tension not in the obvious question (Will Rachel be rescued?), but in more personal ones.” —The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Barbara Gowdy

Barbara Gowdy is the author of five previous books, including, most recently, The White Bone and The Romantic. Her fiction has been published in more than twenty countries. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Barbara Gowdy

Sigrid Estrada

Barbara Gowdy

From the Publisher


Latest on Facebook