Is Dear Child a true story? Plot of book by Romy Hausmann that inspired Netflix thriller explained

Inspired by the novel of the same name by Romy Hausmann, the six-part series begins where other thrillers end

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Netflix’s latest psychological thriller Dear Child tells the harrowing story of Lena and her children who have been held captive for 13 years.

The six-part German-language series begins where other thrillers end, showing us the aftermath of their escape and the impact and trauma Lena and her children go through following their freedom and journey to hold their captor accountable.

Inspired by the novel of the same name by Romy Hausmann, it was adapted into a screenplay by Isabel Kleefeld and Julian Pörksen. So, is Dear Child based on a true story and what is the book by Romy Hausmann about? Here’s everything you need to know.

Is Dear Child a true story?

Dear Child is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Romy Hausmann and is not based on a true story. Directors and screenwriters, Isabel Kleefeld and Julian Pörksen worked together to adapt the novel into the Netflix screenplay, with the novel largely inspiring the plot.

Dear Child is the latest psychological thriller from Netflix (Photo: Netflix)Dear Child is the latest psychological thriller from Netflix (Photo: Netflix)
Dear Child is the latest psychological thriller from Netflix (Photo: Netflix)

What is the book Dear Child by Romy Hausmann about?

Published in 2019, Dear Child is a psychological thriller that follows the story of Lena Beck, who goes missing after attending a party and is held captive in a cabin in the woods for 13 years.

Along with her two children, Hannah and Jonathan, they are forced to follow a strict routine dictated by the man who holds them hostage. Lena manages to escape one day, leading her and the children to finally be discovered and set free. However, her reappearance leads to more questions as the authorities and Lena’s family try to get to the bottom of what happened to their daughter and catch the man responsible.

What was the inspiration behind Dear Child?

Hausmann opened up about her inspiration for the novel in an interview with the American Booksellers Association in 2020, citing “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on Train” for getting her into writing thrillers.

She explained: “For me, thrillers used to be either the shallow crime novels my mother used to read on vacation or blood and slaughter, so the genre was completely uninteresting to me.”

Hausmann added, “Then, by chance, I read Gone Girl and The Girl on Train and was absolutely thrilled. I wanted to write something like that, too. So, a big thank you to Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, without whom I would never have started writing thrillers. I still read everything I can get my hands on from both authors, but now I’m also very much inspired by true crime cases. I watch a lot of documentaries on television and am particularly interested in unsolved crimes.”

On the ending of the story, she revealed: “Although I let the story — and especially the characters — guide me, my feeling on how everything has to end establishes itself very early on. Sometimes I even have the vague thought of the ending before I know how to start the story. Without giving too much away, I knew from the start I was going to write this particular epilogue because the person from whose point of view it is written shouldn’t just remain a victim. I would have found that unfair.”

Are there any similar true stories to Dear Child?

Dear Child is a fictional story, however there have been harrowing true accounts involving women and their children being held captive for decades before finally being able to escape.

Perhaps one of the most well-known cases is that of Elizabeth Fritzl in Austria, who was held captive by her father Josef. His horrific crimes were only discovered in 2008 after Elizabeth convinced him to take her eldest daughter to the hospital. The 87-year-old was jailed for life in 2009 after being found guilty of imprisoning and raping his daughter in a basement which he built under the family’s home. Elizabeth was held captive for 24 years and during this time gave birth to seven children.

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