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text 2018-09-13 03:20
Halloween Bingo - New Release
The Perfect Mother - Aimee Molloy

The Perfect Mother is a suspense novel published in 2018 about a woman whose baby is kidnapped when she leaves him with a babysitter to go out for drinks with a group of friends from a new mothers group. I'm using it for the New Release square.

 

 

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review 2018-08-24 03:13
Slow suspense building to a superb ending
The Perfect Mother - Aimee Molloy

Don’t be overwhelmed by the substantial amount of characters in this book. Some are just stand by, you’ll want to focus on: Francie, Colette, Nell, and Winnie. (Maybe Token on the side but he’s more a supportive role) it may seem haphazard and all over the place which is why it’s best to just focus on these four moms.

 

The chapters switch from different points of view and there’s that one lone chapter that’s presented in first person. It’s a mystery as to who that is until much later, but it certainly does keep you guessing on who that person could be. It may seem obvious at first and during the reading you feel so sure you know who that is and what’s behind the entire story but the blind side moment comes fast in the last few chapters and you’re left with a shock.

 

The plot slowly builds to a good mystery and suspense. The thrilling bits get you at the end. It’s a satisfying read, the characters grate on you (Francie and Nell are the ones I disliked the most), but it’s the suspense and the ‘keeping you guessing’ bits that get the reading going.

 

So although it may seem like it’s all over the place, give the book a chance and read. It’s well worth it with the superb ending.

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review 2018-02-05 03:03
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
The Perfect Mother - Aimee Molloy

A special thank you to Edelweiss and Harper for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

A mommy group dubbed as the May Mothers meet at a park twice a week to discuss being new mothers, swap stories, alleviate their anxieties, and offer advice and support.

 

It is one of the hottest summers on record.  As a break from the heat, and the babies, the members decide a night out is in order at the local hip bar.  Winnie, a single mother, had never left her six-week-old infant, Midas.  One of the May Mothers offers up her babysitter so that Winnie can join them, insisting everything would be fine.  On this stifling Fourth of July, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted right from his home.  Midas is missing and the police are asking disturbing questions that are putting Winnie's private life on display and the media can't get enough.

 

None of the other members are particularly close to the guarded Winnie, yet three of them will go to great lengths to help find her baby.  Secrets are exposes, relationships are tested, and the mothers are scrutinized.  

 

All I can say is, what a surprise!  Apparently this book will be adapted for the big screen and will star Kerry Washington (um...yes, please).  Molloy's novel is also eagerly anticipated as one of this coming summer's must reads and I would definitely recommend it as well.    

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review 2015-03-12 00:00
The Perfect Mother: A Novel
The Perfect Mother: A Novel - Nina Darnton Received this book through the GoodReads First Reads giveaway program

"She thought again of Emma, alone and scared in jail, and felt the already familiar ache. Being a mother is like being held hostage, she thought, with no prospect of release - even when your children are grown, probably even when they have children of their own."


The Lewis family wake up in the middle of the night to a phone call that will likely alter the course of their future. All they could ever hope to appreciate about their lives and the realization of the "All-American" family will prove to be a failed attempt at parenthood in middle-class suburbia. With all intents and purposes, they were living the dream, on the path to success with 2.7 children and a home with a white picket fence. Sure there were some hiccups along the way with possible affairs and minor run-ins with the law, but what family doesn't go through that kind of stuff. Living in Philadelphia (the city of brotherly love), stay-at-home mom aficionado Jennifer Lewis lives with her husband and corporate lawyer Mark, made complete with her most prized possessions: her eight-year-old son Eric, her sixteen-year-old daughter Lily, and her twenty-year-old daughter and social activist in training Emma. Since putting her acting career on hold, Jennifer has made it a point to raise her children in the most stimulating of environments possible. Between countless extra-curricular activities, tutors, personal freedom, unconditional love, and unwavering affection Jennifer maintains a constant presence in all of her children's lives, (unlike their father).

"Jennifer sank down on the bed and looked helplessly at Mark. Usually, she would take comfort in his presence, gain strength from their dual purpose, from his arm around her. But now? She felt alienated, criticized, hurt, but mostly alone. Sitting next to her on the bed, he did put his arm around her shoulders, his habitual gesture in times of trouble, but he did it absentmindedly, dutifully, and she sensed the difference."


The family's eldest daughter Emma is in Spain participating in a program instituted by Princeton university that sends students overseas to study for a year. After eight months, everything was going great, there had been limited conversation and correspondence, but by all accounts there were no issues with Emma until that fateful night. In a drunken, drug-fueled haze Emma calls her mother to tell her that she was being held in jail. Emma has been accused of murdering a local young man who happens to have a reputation for being non-aggressive and who comes from a family with a good standing in the community. Jennifer gets on the first flight to Seville while Mark organizes the family situation at home. When Jennifer touches down and gets the lay of the land, she realizes really early in the process that what she thought she knew about her daughter had dramatically changed. The daughter that left Philadelphia eight months ago is not the one she has heard about from investigators and townspeople, read about in the local tabloids, and saw with her own eyes in prison. Over the course of eight months, what could have happened to turn a lively, resolute, passionate, and open-minded young woman into a listless, resentful, lying, and hotheaded stranger?

"One day she needs me, another she wants to be completely independent, another time she wants to show off how much she's learned and how sophisticated she's become, and yet another, she wants to tell me how spoiled and privileged and unworthy I am. She goes from hot to cold to hot again. Sometimes I feel like she's been invaded, like in that film, The Exorcist, but not by the devil - by Paco, and the ideas he's filled her head with."


First thing that came to my mind when reading this story was how similar it was to the Amanda Knox story. Like Emma, Amanda was raised in an upper middle-class family streamlined to a life of success. A young and beautiful woman, Amanda had the world at her fingertips before she decided to leave the nest and study abroad in Italy. Her parents had their reservations due to her naivete about the real world and her sheltered upbringing. In their minds this was too big of step to make at this vital point in her life, but like most parents they granted their blessing even if the bad outweighed the good. In both cases the murders happened during a public holiday, Amanda is accused of murdering a woman in a jealous rage while Emma is accused of being an accomplice to murder even in self-defense, they are both strangers in a strange land with variances and complexities of the national legal system, and are misconstrued due to contrived and overzealous media and the propaganda machine. The two personal stories are very similar, but the differences lie in the details. The problem I had was that I couldn't shake the knowledge I had of the Knox case to better submit myself to this story. I felt somewhat cheated. If you have no prior knowledge this book will probably be more enjoyable than it was for me.

The interesting element of the book is that it is told through the eyes of the mother. Jennifer is blinded by her defenses, so much so that she can't fathom to comprehend the truth that her own flesh and blood could do such a horrendous act. She no longer has the feeling that she can diligently evaluate her children with an honest eye. The shame Jennifer feels for her children's failures is equal to the credit she gives herself for their successes. Her children have not been held responsible for anything in their lives; it's all been excuse, after excuse, after excuse. This book is emotionally suspenseful showcasing how a seemingly controlled upbringing with the most honest of intentions can unearth the dark side of parenthood. Secondarily this book deals with the complexities between national media, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and how families can be changed forever with one phone call.

"She leaned back again and looked out the window at the crowded streets, all the people moving about, living their lives, hurrying to meet someone or going home alone to empty apartments, happy or sad or angry or afraid. They were all coping with their own private crisis or celebrating their own triumphs. And though she didn't know them and could barely understand their language, she felt a kinship with them somehow, a sense that they were all part of the same human drama and that though the case might be different, her current unhappiness was something they could understand."

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review 2015-03-05 00:00
The Perfect Mother: A Novel
The Perfect Mother: A Novel - Nina Darnton ** I received this in a Goodreads “First Reads” giveaway **

Jennifer Lewis is so certain that everything in her life is perfect she is not even worried when the phone rings in the middle of the night. Regrettably for the Lewis family, the axiom holds true, and the phone call is very bad news. Their daughter Emma, studying abroad in Spain for a year, is being detained as a “person of interest” in the brutal murder of another student which took place in her apartment.

Coming home from a local celebration Emma was unlocking her door when a fellow student threatened her with a knife, pushed her into her apartment and attempted to rape her. Her screams attracted the attention of a good samaritan who fought the rapist and killed him in self-defense. The good samaritan is now, unfortunately, nowhere to be found.

As any mother would, Jennifer rushes to be at her daughter’s side and vows to do everything in her power to exonerate her daughter. When Jennifer arrives in Spain she is shocked at the change in her daughter finding her sullen, withdrawn and for some reason angry with her mother. Jennifer always considered herself the “perfect mother” – always there for her children – she gave up her promising career to stay home and be a mother. She is proud of the fact that she had always been able to solve any of her children’s problems, whether something as simple as Emma’s unhappiness at being in a different class than her best friend or something more serious such as the time Emma was caught cheating on an exam or shoplifting a dress. But can she solve this problem? Particularly when it seems that Emma doesn’t want her help.

Jennifer and her husband Mark hire a top criminal defense attorney to navigate the Spanish legal system and a private investigator to find the mystery man who holds the key to their daughter’s release. Jennifer starts her own investigation by talking to Emma’s friends at school soon not being able to prevent her own doubts from rising to the surface as one story unravels only to be replaced by another.

When I read the description of this book in the Goodreads Giveaway section it struck me as bearing a strong resemblance to the Amanda Knox case very much in the news over the past years. I couldn’t help but think to myself “yeah, another quick fictionalized version of the story to cash in on its notoriety and controversy”. I have followed the Knox case with interest (more avid than some and less avidly than others) and have read other books (not so loosely) based on it, usually with disappointing results. If the book description is meant as a device to get this book into people’s hands … kudos to the marketing team … it works! After all, it did influence me to take a chance on receiving the book by entering the contest. Yes, it involves a young, slightly naïve yet adventurous American student studying overseas. Yes, there is a murder of a fellow student of which she is accused. Yes, there are other small similarities used as jumping off points for “The Perfect Mother” but that is where the comparison ends. After reading the book, my opinion is that if it is a marketing ploy it does the book a great disservice. This book is strong enough to stand on its own two feet. It takes off in a completely different direction. It explores whether sometimes, as parents and particularly mothers, we do too much for our children. Are we doing more harm than good when we intervene in certain situations? It looks at how extreme circumstances affect not only the people directly involved but family and friends as well. Can a marriage already troubled survive the stress of an untenable situation? All that AND it’s a page-turner with a surprise jab at the end! I think this book would lead to some lively book club discussions. Good job Ms. Darnton.

So, giving The Perfect Mother all the positive raving why only the 4 star rating? Well, I don’t often say this, but I wish the book had been a little bit longer. I was very intrigued by some of the characters, one example being Roberto Ortiz, the private detective hired by the Lewis family. The non-resolution of his subplot left me a little disappointed and wondering. But maybe that’s a tale for another time?
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