Ben is the true (heartbreakingly true) story about the disappearance of 21 month old Ben Needham on the island of Kos.
Although a tough subject it is a quick and easy read. Throughout the book the pain of Ben's mother, grandparents and uncles is palpable and brought tears to my eyes - in particular the incidences when a child has been spotted who may be Ben and they travel to see him and find out it is not. The disappointment and sadness they feel is heartbreaking.
It is frustrating to read about the investigations and what was done (and not done) to find Ben - at the time of initial disappearance and over the years. The Greek police seem to be reluctant to acknowledge that something bad may have happened to the child and that it occurred on their island of Kos.
Location, time and technology also went against the Needham family. Nowadays with facebook and twitter it is very easy to mobilise a campaign to find a missing child. Even before facebok and twitter the newspapers and tv would be great for raising awareness. The Needham family were living in Kos in 1991 and these things did just not apply to them.
In the book Kerry Needham does explore the case of another missing child Madeleine McCann and how the McCann family got so much exposure so quickly, and raised (a huge amount of) money to fund their campaign, so quickly. She does acknowledge that it is a different time and the technology certainly helped but she also feels that the media got behind a perceived "upper class family/two doctors", whereas they were a family who had moved to Kos and were living in a caravan.
I wasn't sure about that when I read it first but the more I think about it I think she might be kind of right. I didn't think so because I had read all about how her mother and father were hard workers and how they had moved to Kos for a better life. Yes, they were living in a caravan (what is wrong with that anyway!) but they had already got jobs and were working away.
But! I guess if you did not know this background...I guess it just "didn't look great".
So ultimately there is no good ending to this book. Ben Needham is still missing. And this is the important message from the book:
This is what Ben Needham might look like today (picture is from book published May 2013).
If you ever see someone who looks like him (blonde blue eyed) in amongst a country or group of people who all look different (i.e. dark olive skinned) then report it on the Help Find Ben website or to Yorkshire Police (phone numbers and emails for reporting are on the Help find Ben website)
All photos are from the book Ben by Kerry Needham