Saturday, November 13, 2021

Sarah Vaughan - Little Disasters

Liz Trenchard is an experienced pediatrician with a duty to protect all children admitted to her busy emergency room When Jess Curtis, an affluent, stay-at-home mother, turns up at the ER one night with her baby girl, she immediately prompts suspicion. The ten-month-old has a blow to the head her mother doesn’t seem to have noticed, and Jess has a story that doesn’t stack up.
Meanwhile, Liz is riddled with doubt as she confronts secrets held by her mother, whose neglect not only led to a childhood tragedy involving her brother but raises questions about another baby Liz half-remembers from thirty-five years ago.

Comment: I was checking out the shelf where my local library puts recent books they got and saw this one. I haven't heard about the author but the cover was too still somehow and I immediately started imagining what could happen so I grabbed the book without much thought.

In this book we follow doctor Liz while she deals with the inquiries over to the possible mistreatment of a baby by her mother Jess, who happens to be part of Liz's group of friends. The baby has hit her head but Jess' explanations aren't good enough and social services are called. As Jess tries to keep things calm, she has two other children after all, the police is getting more aggressive with what they imply and Liz wonders how can Jess cope. Did Jess hit her baby, did she wish her harm? Something is not well explained in the whole thing, could it be there's something to hide in Jess' family dynamics?

This book is marketed as mystery, thriller and suspense but thinking about these adjectives, I wouldn't choose any to label this book. To me, this was simply a drama where the reader is led to believe something truly secretive is going on but when the reveal happens, I was pretty meh about it. Part of why I felt this was was the plot itself, which isn't really that much of a thriller, and then I also think the way the story is told doesn't really convey that sense of imminent doom or that we are approaching something incredible.

The story is simple, basically revolves around the investigation on whether Jess, an obviously tired mother with signs of postpartum depression, has knowingly hurt her baby daughter or if the baby's fracture was an accident. The fact the story is narrated by Liz, Jess and here and there by one or two other characters, between past and present moments made it all seem a bit too confusing and distracting. I don't think enough was done to make the reader really feel the urgency to discover what happened for the baby to have been hurt.

The characters aren't fully developed either (in my opinion) because we only get enough to make a superficial judgment. I suppose this was a little on purpose, so that we wouldn't know right away if someone was lying or how the dots would connect, otherwise where would the mystery part be? However, this also led me to not be truly invested in the characters nor in their lives and by the end of the novel, after the disappointing explanation, I confess I wasn't sad to be turning the last page.

I think the big issue is that the author didn't really add that sense of urgency, so that it would be vital to know what would happen. The supposedly twist in the end only felt overarching, and I can't understand how 1) such a situation would go on for so long before someone could investigate better, especially the police and 2) why the culprit would go on to do such a thing for that silly reason.

The theme of the book is how motherhood can affect women and how everyone is different, has different experiences and even mothers with more than one child can have different reactions to all births. I'm not a mother so I can't relate, but I can imagine the stress and the fear of not doing a good enough job, being responsible for a new life. I think there's a lot to explore in such a status - having a bad experience with labor, the birth, etc - and the author did a good attempt trying to portray this here. I think that, if the story had been focused on the drama/medical aspects would have been a more interesting perspective, rather than try to make this a thriller.

In the end, this was a good book to spend the time, it was easy and quick to read, despite my distractions, offered interesting ideas, subjects to think about, and there are some scenes I think were well thought. However, it wasn't exciting nor absorbing enough to me and I think it would benefit were it to have different labels.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment