The Perfect Mother: A Review

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. As the police bungle the investigation and the media scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Vanity Fair magazine is calling The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy one of the most highly anticipated thriller of the summer. This is a valid declaration as it has already been optioned for a film starring Kerry Washington. I was fortunate to receive an early copy by Harper Books in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by saying that I had been tracking this book before receiving it. I have started reading a ton of thrillers in recent months. Nothing beats the fast pace of a plot in which direction it is heading is unknown. Sometimes thrillers all blend together especially when many have been read in recent months. I am pleased to relay that The Perfect Mother stands apart from the rest. Once I started reading it I did not want to stop. As is true with all thrillers, this read very fast but the examination of the way motherhood affects each of the May Mothers absorbed me. Truthfully it read like a sociological examination of new motherhood. The title “the perfect mother” speaks to each female character. They are simply trying to figure out how to be the best mother that they can when their worst nightmare is realized. What should have been a fun free night out quickly went wrong when Winnie’s son is taken from his crib.

I am not a mother so I cannot attest that the presentation of the struggle to adjust to motherhood is done correctly but I believe that it is. Each of the May Mothers are struggling with their own issues. One is a single mother. One is struggling financially while her husband’s business struggles. One is a mother because of IVF but she is struggling to be a mom. One cannot imagine leaving her baby when she has to go back to work. One is struggling to balance her writing career and motherhood. One has the answers to everything when it comes to being a mother. These are elements that I can foresee being problematic when it comes to motherhood. Seeing these issues unfold along with the kidnapping make for an engrossing read. While I was reading my mind kept going back and forth. I was searching for clues. I thought I knew who to trust but then I began question their character. I instinctively began hating one character but I kept changing my mind. My mind was all over the place. I am glad this was the case because I would have been extremely disappointed otherwise. A crappy and predictable thriller is an obnoxious bookish problem to have.

As this is a thriller I am not going to reveal any of the plot. After all readers those are not the sort of reviews I write. This is a thriller after all. I would never dream of revealing spoilers or clues to you. I will stress again how absorbed I was by the focus on societal expectations for new mothers. Aimee Molloy expertly wove that focus along with a thrilling plot so well. If you are a fan of thrillers then you must read this one. I think this has excellent potential to make a great film. It certainly has a strong plot and great characters. However I rarely enjoy adaptations so I am extremely skeptical that it will be as good as the book. I am hardly ever ahead of the book to film reading so I am just glad to finally be ahead for a change!

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy will be available on May 1st!

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