REVIEW: THE PERFECT MOTHER, BY AIMEE MOLLOY

 

A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar, they want a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed. 

My Thoughts: The Perfect Mother is narrated by multiple characters, and begins in the first person voice of one of them. She seems to be anonymous, and throughout the story, I thought I knew who she was. But only in the final moments is her identity known.

To say that first-time mothers are often insecure, not knowing the right way to do the various tasks connected to being the “perfect” mother, would be an understatement. Finding the May Mothers group seemed a great way to form their own community to support them and enhance their knowledge.

What each of them brings to the group is her best face, hiding the various secrets in the past.

So when baby Midas goes missing after the mothers take a night out at a local bar, it is only a matter of time until these secrets begin to surface.

Winnie has a glamorous past, so hiding her background makes her seem standoffish…until the truth comes out. But then the media makes so much of it all, turning her into someone who might do something terrible, like hurt her own baby.

The others have faith in her, not believing that she could harm her baby, and they all offer their thoughts to the police when interviewed. Some of them, like Francie, go above and beyond to persuade the police to look elsewhere…until they brush her aside, annoyed with her behavior.

Numerous possibilities are considered, and while the search continues, the other mothers deal with their own lives and their challenges. Francie is struggling from sleep deprivation and also from her obsessive need to help with the search. Collette is ghost-writing a book for the mayor, but finds that he is often unavailable for meetings, so her work is less than stellar. Nell seems to have a lot more to hide, and as her secrets come out, the media attention flickers from Winnie and Midas to her.

I was totally blindsided by what had actually happened, and who was behind everything. As I rapidly turned the pages, I felt breathless from the intensity of it all. A page turner! 5 stars.

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REVIEW: SISTERS LIKE US, BY SUSAN MALLERY

 

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

My Thoughts: Sisters Like Us is a family story. One that shows the reader how the mother/daughter/sister bonds could be very challenging, but could also lead to the chance to watch the characters grow and change.

Harper is a fascinating woman who has taken on the task of single mother/business woman, and even tries to stand up to the criticism of her mother, Bunny, who seems to believe that she is the only one who knows the right way to be a woman.

Sixteen-year-old Becca feels ignored due to her mother’s full schedule, and as a result, she sulks and closes herself off instead of accepting her own part in the relationship issues.

Stacey is a brilliant scientist, pregnant at 40, with an unusual parenting plan ahead of her. She is terrified of her mother’s critical nature, and as a result, she is keeping a very big secret.

I liked the setting of Mischief Bay, and enjoyed how the characters interacted with one another.

Issues of abandonment, loss, and starting over kept me engaged until the last page. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: EVERY WILD HEART, BY MEG DONOHUE

Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic?

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next…

My Thoughts: I love a good mother/daughter tale, and a single mother raising a teenager resonates with me.

Gail is one of those characters I enjoy: feisty, opinionated, protective, talented, and smart. She is famous for all of those qualities on her radio show, and although she works at night and her daughter is at school in the daytime, they still manage to keep in touch.

But Nic’s form of social anxiety worries her mother…and then when she has the horse riding accident, everything changes. It is as if a part of Nic, a wild side, has been awakened. Part of that awakening came in the form of a boy named Lucas Holt, a senior boy drawn to her, just as she was to him.

Every Wild Heart kept me engaged all the way through, and I enjoyed the alternating narratives of Gail and Nic. Seeing each perspective kept me rooting for each of them.

I wanted Gail to succeed, and a great offer for her to do a TV show was very tempting for her, but with all that Nic was going through, she was struggling with the decision. What would ultimately bring out the best in each of them without the other being sidelined? How would they find a way to work through the fearsome times? How would a sudden stalker threatening Gail and Nic bring the story to a crashing conclusion?

I was stunned by the stalker reveal…and then the pieces fell into place for Gail and Nic moving forward. 4 stars.

***