⇒”Human life is sacred, not fodder for irresponsible experimentation with unknown consequences…” –Mother Knows Best ⇐
**Many thanks to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Author: Kira Peikoff
(4.06 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Suspense
Publication Date: September 10, 2019, by Crooked Lane Books
Pages: 288 (Kindle version)
Are you doing it right now too? It’s OK, you can admit it. I have been doing it since the day I started reading this book. It even made it onto one of my Instagram stories. I know you did it as soon as you read the title of the book for today’s review. You started singing “Mother Knows Best” from the movie, Tangled. Admit it! I know you did!
I cannot get that song out of my head since the very moment I saw this book title and started swiping through its pages (on my Kindle, relax). I used to like that song, but know that its playing on a loop in my head, I really don’t ever have to hear it again. Thank goodness my next book doesn’t have a song that matches its title or else this would be a very long week. But I digress, Since it’s definitely not about Rapunzel (I promise), let’s see what Mother Knows Best is actually about. Here’s the blurb…
Claire, Robert, and Jillian work together to create the world’s first baby with three genetic parents—an unprecedented feat that could eliminate inherited disease. But when word of their illegal experiment leaks to the wrong person, Robert escapes into hiding with the now-pregnant Claire, leaving Jillian to serve out a prison sentence that destroys her future. Ten years later, a spunky girl named Abigail begins to understand that all is not right with the reclusive man and woman she knows as her parents. But the family’s problems are only beginning. Jillian, hardened by a decade of jealousy and loss, has returned—and nothing will stop her from reuniting with the man and daughter who should have been hers.
It’s impossible to tell that my beautiful girl is the first of her kind.
OK, let’s get into it. Points for including an original physical infirmity that is NOT cancer! Thank you, Kira Peikoff, for being original with that. I have complained about that so long and finally someone has heard me. While equally devastating and heartbreaking, Claire and Ethan’s son suffering from a mitochondrial abnormality is key to the story and infinitely more unique.
Also, points for the multiple POVs that help the reader navigate between particular motives and actions in the present and past. Instead of being left with a lot of “why?” at the end of the book, Peikoff finds a way to explain why everyone did what they did when they did it – a task that isn’t easy to pull off.
My eyes have rebelled against my mind. It’s not the first time.
OK, so we’ve got a compelling problem, multiple points of view, and an overwhelming sense of suspense that nothing about what is going to happen to any of these characters is going to be good. And that’s kind of where it gets hung up. It’s never a good sign when I find myself screaming at the people on the page/screen. Trust me. But that’s what happens when they start doing inexplicable things and willingly heading towards imminent disaster. These are touted as highly intelligent people, so why does every single one of them refuse to think things through? Those are the gripes that distracted me from truly enjoying this book.
Other than that, the book is a great length, has an unusual, unique premise, and even includes a not-totally-expected little twist. I would recommend it to readers who love suspenseful novels that include a focus on reproductive science and mental health after the loss of child. Too specific? Hmm, OK, maybe also those that appreciate a great “awkward family dinner” scene!
Mother Knows Best will be available September 10, 2019 at any of the following retail stores:
Kira Peikoff is a graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism. She also holds a Master of Science degree in bioethics from Columbia University. Her articles have been published in a variety of major media outlets, including The New York Times.