A Good Enough Mother
By Bev Thomas
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Dr. Ruth Hartland rises to difficult tasks. But today, in the run up to her son Tom’s birthday, one question preoccupies her: where did Tom go when he disappeared?When her last patient of the day – a young man suffering from PTSD – arrives at the unit, Ruth is floored. Tweet
A fine debut novel. Rules are in place to protect staff in a psychiatric clinic. A new patient bears an uncanny resemblance to the missing son of the lead psychiatrist and rules are broken. Small infringements at the beginning but repercussions inevitably follow. A tightly written book from an author who deftly manages her characters. More please!
It isn't often I read a book that keeps me interested from start to finish. A Good Enough Mother is one of those psychological thrillers that gripped my attention.
The story revolves around Ruth, who heads up a psychological trauma centre, and has had her 17-year-old son, Tom, disappear. As she is trying to cope with her loss, a doppelganger, Dan, appears as a new client for her, a young man traumatised by a violent crime. Ruth is stunned by the similarities.
The main characters are Ruth, Tom, Dan, and Ruth's husband David and her daughter Carolyn. Each of these characters is well developed, intriguing and authentic. The dialogue is believable, succinct and authentic. As the reader, you can almost hear them speaking.
We tap into the world of Ruth and how she thinks, her emotions and desires. In parts, Ruth over-analysis situations, especially anything to do with her son but this all adds to the fabric of the tale. At times, you can feel Ruth's fear, her loss, her sadness, her confidence and her anxiety - a real roller coaster of emotions.
The author has created suspense and tension through her writing, her words always seem to be alluding to some terrible event that is about to happen. It took a lot of will for me not to peek at the last page to find out 'who dunnit'.
This is a suspense novel with many threads that all tie in together brilliantly at the end. I enjoyed this book very much and would put it at the top of my recommendations.
Ruth is an experienced psychotherapist, working in a specialised trauma unit. But she has problems of her own. 18 months previously her beloved son, Tom, who had always been different and struggled to fit in, became a Missing Person. When Dan, a new patient, enters her office for the first time and bears a striking resemblance to Tom, things start to unravel for Ruth. Whilst she knows that her judgement when treating Dan is likely to be impaired, she cannot bear to transfer his care to a colleague. When small cracks start to appear in Ruth’s handling of the case, nobody could have predicted the devastating and far-reaching effects that would ensue.
It was obvious to me that the author had worked in the field of psychotherapy as the book was delivered with conviction and confidence. I found the insight into the relationship between psychotherapist and patient fascinating, and the vulnerability to which both are exposed was handled both intelligently and sensitively. The small errors of judgement which began to creep in as the sessions progressed were well thought out, subtle and entirely plausible. The book is very readable and I thought it was a real page-turner, which held my attention throughout. I loved it.
The only thing I had a problem with was getting my head around the the nature of psychodynamic therapy. Despite my best efforts to understand how it worked, the philosophy of it eluded me.
Whilst I am interested in the field of mental health, I do not think that this is a prerequisite in order to enjoy this novel. This is an astounding debut and Bev Thomas should be very proud to have written it. I will certainly be looking out for future publications.