Author: Laura Jarratt
Publication date: 18th February 2021
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Format reviewed: e-ARC
Number of pages: 352
Two Girls. One Chance.
When Lizzie’s car crashes with her two daughters inside, she faces a terrible choice. And when she recovers from her injuries, she has to deal with the impact of that tragedy as well as the police investigation into it.
As Lizzie and her family struggle to come to terms with the events of that night, things take an even darker turn. Just what did happen on that remote country road? Who is responsible? And can the family get through this together…Or will the truth finally tear them apart?
A stunning, deeply emotional and beautifully realised cross between SOPHIE’S CHOICE and DAUGHTER.
Oh, my Goodness! For someone who is not fond of children, I have been reading quite a few books involving them, but I must say this one is very special. So special that it sparked a big conversation in the house! I love it when books make you feel but also think, really think, and you discover opinions can vary to the extreme. More on this later…
The book begins with quite a regular scene: a mother and two daughters ending their holiday with a trip to the village shop. The familiar setting was perfect to enable me to discover Lizzie, a woman for whom motherhood is everything (no, don’t worry, she never overdoes it!), and her very different girls: Becca and Portia. This opening was perfect to lure me into a sense of security. The narrative was precise and intriguing, even when describing the most mundane tasks.
Soon, however, all sense of safety left the pages. On their way back home, on a dark and empty road, Lizzie is blinded by lights, and the next seconds change her life forever.
I have no words strong enough to convey how immersive the author’s writing style is. I was in the car with Lizzie and the girls. I was in the lake. I was trapped by the water. I remember feeling panicky and anxious while reading, my knuckles white as my hands gripped the Kindle. Car crashes are terrible but imagine ending your trip in a lake! The shock, the cold, and… the terrible truth dawning on you. There is not enough time. Three went in, only two can get out.
To say I was shaken would be an understatement. If I thought I was diving into a nice thriller as I know them, I was wrong. The standard of the psychological exploration in Mother is outstanding. From that point on, the pages felt real: sometimes raw as papercuts, sometimes heart-wrenching, always, always putting words on feelings with such power, handling subjects such as grief with sensitivity.
What do you do when faced with an impossible choice? Lizzie can only save one of her children. But how do you choose which child deserves to live? The unfairness of the situation broke my heart and the desperation overwhelmed me. I was struck by it that I put the book down, went to my family, and asked them the question. How would you choose? How can you?! Answers were… direct, sincere, and we disagreed on a few things, such as the apparently evident solution: ‘choose the youngest!’ Thank you! I am the oldest child! You would let me die?! Jokes apart, it was thought-provoking and eye-opening to read about it and then share my thoughts on it with others. This was a brilliant surprise. I am a dog mama, not a kid mama, but I did my best to understand each point of view, and thanks to the amazing talent of Laura Jarratt, I was able to feel what a mother would feel.
The family is thrown into tragedy and there is no easy way out of it. Grief is a character in itself and it morphs into different shapes, hitting each character in a different way. Guilt is also around, hovering over the house like a dark cloud. What happened on this road? Why can’t Lizzie remember? Is the truth too much to bear? While the psychological element is present at all times, mystery suddenly blends in and adds another layer to Mother.
By the time this happened, I was already absolutely unable to tear myself away from the book and had formed different relationships with each protagonist. The threat pushing the family to its breaking point had my crime-lover brain run wild trying to figure out the who and why. Yet, the more I read, the clearer I saw that this thriller string of the plot was not just a tool to give chills to the story, but rather a magnificent way to take you on a terrible and yet somehow beautiful journey… I know, this is vague, but Mother is rich, so rich and it gives so much in terms of emotions and intrigue, that I prefer to keep some things quiet and let you experience it yourself.
Compulsive and fascinating, Mother is an astounding example of what’s best in psychological thrillers.
My thanks to Tracy for inviting me to be part of the tour, and to the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.