This is quite a difficult book to review, and when I looked at amazon, I wasn’t at all surprised by the mixed reviews. I think a lot depends on what you expect from this book. Personally, I almost put it down early on, but by the end I was glad that I’d finished it.
So, to the story.. the book opens with Josh getting a call that his baby son is at the hospital. According to his wife Dori, she took Zack to the hospital, where he was checked and discharged, then collapsed in the car park. She insists she mentioned blood in his vomit, the admitting doctor insists she didn’t. The hospital and the head Paediatrician now want to do lots of tests, Dori doesn’t them done. It’s a confusing picture, but they return home.
At this point, where I was expecting to get more into this story, we are taken to a group of ex-convicts coming out of hospital, then onto the head doctor’s past story. For me, this proved frustrating, and was where I almost gave up. Persevering with it however, the story returns to baby Zack.
Dr Stokes, the head Paediatrician, starts to suspect the mother of Münchhausen’s By Proxy (MBP), a condition where a parent will cause illness in a child, usually for attention. With this, we are taken through a legal battle, poor (clever?) media coverage, and issues of race.
This isn’t a fast paced court drama, such as we expect from the likes of Jodi Picoult. It’s a slower, dark, complex story, with rather unlike-able characters. The earlier distracting chapters do have a point to them, but this takes a while to show. There’s no big reveal at the end, but rather it’s shared with the reader early on whether Dori is guilty of MBP or not.
Personally speaking, I did feel that the story was a little too drawn out, and that some of the earlier chapters were distracting. However, I was glad to persevere, and the book has stayed with.. especially the rather dark character of Dori. It’s an interesting view of MBP, but it also explores other issues.