Think the unthinkable: A child is kidnapped outside her home. Then imagine you can peer into the heart of the kidnapper—an appliance repairman called Ron who fears his horrifying proclivities but believes he's a slave to love. Barbara Gowdy's Helpless (Metropolitan) is rich in characters: Celia, a hard-up single mother whose life hangs "by the thread of a single human attachment" to her beautiful, worldly wise, sweetly peevish 9-year-old daughter, Rachel; and Ron's emotionally wobbly girlfriend, Nancy. Terror and empathy move in lockstep through the final pages of this deeply perceptive novel.
— Cathleen Medwick