Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the ARC of this book.
I’m not sure this is the best book to be reading when you have a young baby at home, as it features one character who kills a baby and another who is suffering with maternal OCD and constantly imagines harming her baby. However, it is written very sympathetically towards mothers and gives a really good insight into how it feels to be a mother and how, even if you are not suffering with mental health issues, motherhood changes you, makes you compare yourself to others and makes you feel like you can never be enough for your children.
Despite the unnerving content, I found this book very interesting. It has a really enthralling hook, the quandary which a paediatric doctor faces when one of her best friends, who she thinks is a brilliant mother, brings her infant daughter in with a head injury and lies about how it happened. Should she report her friend to the authorities? I liked the exploration and outcome of their friendship.
There is a secondary plot line about the doctor’s neglectful mother which I thought was less compelling. It rounded out her character, but I don’t think the book would have suffered if it had been cut out.
I thought the book could have ended about 10% earlier. There is an unnecessary twist at the end which makes the story seem less grounded in realism and gives the book more of a villain character, which it has done well to avoid until then by looking at all sides of a story and understanding how difficult parenting can be.
This is a very well written book with a good insight into parenting and the affect of a traumatic birth on a mother’s mental health. I appreciated its nuanced and sympathetic approach, particularly aa I struggled with post natal depression following a traumatic birth with my first child and I am only now reflecting on how much it affected me, as I parent a second baby who was born without trauma. I think Vaughan is a very talented and thoughtful writer.