Monday, October 21, 2013

What a Mother Knows by Leslie Lehr

What a Mother Knows by Leslie Lehr
Published by Sourcebooks, May 7, 2013
ISBN: 9781402279560

I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of this wonderful book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. (It always seems like a holiday when I receive a free book!! YAY!!) Additionally, I would have been thrilled if I had actually purchased it! I heartily recommend this book!

Unfortunately, I have not had time to read it until now--but it was well worth the wait!! I had to forewarn my co-worker this Monday morning that I was tired. Why? Well...huh-hmmm...that could be due to the fact that it was past midnight before I went to bed to sleep last night. You might well ask, why? Well...because I had begun reading this book yesterday morning and I just HAD to know; I just HAD to finish it before I could go to sleep! It was that enthralling for me! 

This was more suspenseful than I'd actually expected. Ms. Lehr managed the plot quite astutely, revealing a little more and then a little more, and then... Well, you get the idea. I typically am compelled by a narrative when the characters are well drawn and impassioned, and was I ever compelled! (See above note about late bed-time!!) I cannot begin to imagine Michelle's shock and disorientation after months in a medically-induced coma, then fighting for more than another year to relearn to walk and talk, etc. Although unable to accomplish a full recovery, it was remarkable the skills and abilities she was able to regain and maintain. It pleased me that Michelle had the satisfaction of knowing her intuition regarding her daughter was spot-on and she did virtually track her down, though Nikki was able to evade her at the last minute. Good for her! Especially considering the lies with which she had to deal once released from the hospital and returned to a "normal"/"routine" life! Her world had been turned upside down during those 18 months!

I was pleasantly surprised by the idea of limb regeneration briefly explored in this book. I have heard an experienced Chinese practitioner state that the only reason the human body does not fully regenerate limbs is the lack of pain tolerance. Quite an interesting proposition, in my opinion. Michelle and Wes seemed to automatically and unconsciously connect at such an intimate level! I was happy for both of them, however, it would be nice to find out how their lives continued in the aftermath of this particular novel. But isn't that usually how it is when a book resonates so clearly for you? You always wish you knew how certain things worked out in the future for specific characters...and that, for me is much of the enjoyment of reading! 

I was rather proud to have caught a major plot twist which Michelle overlooked (a rather rare occurrence for me! lol). I could empathize with Michelle and Laura, discovering (and remembering) their children's illicit activities. Which brings me to one of the main issues related in this book. Parents rarely deal with "bad behavior" in effective ways, yet it is virtually impossible to control emotional reactions to what can be identified by most parents as "betrayal" or "rebellion." Would you have "over-reacted" as Michelle did? Could you have been as kind-hearted, forgiving, and seemingly objective as Laura? It is amazing how a series of small decisions can create seemingly insurmountable and disastrous results. Ah...but such is life...

The final controversial issue surrounds Michelle's memory and the trial. Did you believe her to be "innocent" with regard to Noah's death? Or did it even matter by that time? Personally, I felt there was no positive result to be had by her revealing recently recalled memories, particularly since she was the only "witness" to Noah's last minutes of life. Especially given the fact that some neuroscientists now believe there is no "absolute truth" within human experience, but rather we each "create" our own individual and unique memories of any specific experience/event. (I listened to a TED talk addressing this issue.) This explains how multiple eye-witness accounts of the same event can differ so widely, and to a degree how people can so easily misidentify perpetrators, etc. I have experienced this in my own life; my children, now adults with their own families, recall quite differently various childhood events, and their accounts sometimes vary remarkably from my own memories! That never ceases to amaze me. Personally, I feel Michelle was doing everything in her power to save Noah... What would you have done in Michelle's place? Would you have felt compelled to divulge what you believe you've just now "remembered," or would you have kept those thoughts to yourself? Quite the conundrum! And will she ever share this information with anyone else in her life in the future?

I plan to read Lehr's first book, Wife Goes On.

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