A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy- Feature and Review


An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

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. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.



The Perfect MotherThe Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy is a 2018 Harper publication.

Here is another book that lingered around on my TBR list for a while. I think I might have grouped it in with the onslaught of psychological thrillers dominating the publishing world at the time, so I put it on a backburner, while I recovered from PT burnout.

The premise:

A group of new moms, all of whom gave birth in the month of May, joined a ‘Mommy Group’ they aptly named the "May Mothers". They didn’t know each other before they had their babies, only corresponding through email before meeting face to face at Prospect Park.

The group meets bi-weekly to support one another and chat about the joys and challenges of being a new mom. When it is discovered that Winnie, who is usually very quiet, is a single mom and may be feeling overwhelmed, the ladies plan a night out without the babies, and insist Winnie get a babysitter and join them.

But their child-free ladies night turns into a nightmare when Winnie’s son, Midas, disappears while they were out drinking. This turn of events affects the entire group, compounding their already stressful lives.

As the investigation deepens, the women all find themselves under the watchful eye of the police, the press, and social media.

The story follows the mommy group members, each of whom get a turn at controlling the narrative, as they deal with the fallout of Midas’ disappearance. As they navigate through the unknown territory of parenthood, deal with marital issues, family relationships, and career woes, they also find themselves bonding with each other, and even turn into amateur sleuths, in an attempt to help Winnie find her son.

Because this book languished on my TBR list for so long, I had forgotten what the book was about, so I pretty much went into it blind, and as such, was completely taken off guard by the tone of the novel.

For one, I wouldn’t place this book in the psychological thriller category, per se. It is a crime story and a mystery, but the way the story develops, the missing child thread runs in the background.

The drama and demands of motherhood, family relationships, careers, and the pressure to be “The Perfect Mother” takes center stage, instead.

It took me a little while to decide how I felt about this novel. Despite the drama overpowering any semblance of suspense, I found myself wrapped up in the lives of these women.

It was only later, as I reflected on the book, that I realized how deeply the mystery was woven into the story, and how it played a big role in the way the new moms were coping.

The narrative shifts could be confusing at times, but surprisingly, I managed to keep up for the most part. Still, it took me out of the story on a few occasions, especially the parts I listened to on audio. It was probably just me, though, since I tend to struggle with a large cast of characters to begin with.

Other than that, I thought the story also made a little statement about the unrealistic expectations and pressures new mothers in contemporary times face, while at the same time giving these characters the option of doing what worked best for them, whether they were single moms, or had full time careers, or if they decided to be a stay at home mom. Not sure if that was what the author was going for, but it did give me something to ruminate on.

The mystery itself was the weakest element, unfortunately. It was a bit transparent to me. After decades of reading mystery and suspense novels, some plot lines appear to be recycling, only with a more modern spin. While those of you who missed out on all those awesome romantic suspense novels of the 80s and 90s might find the mystery thread to be completely original, I’m afraid I’ve encountered this one before. There were also a few highly implausible situations that almost made me laugh. However, because my attention was mostly on the drama, and the way the investigation was going to go, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story.

Either way, the story took me away from all the bad news out there for a while. Sometimes getting involved in someone else’s high drama is just what you need to get your mind off things.

Although this book wasn’t exactly what I was anticipating, I ended up liking it, overall.






Aimee is also the author of However Long the Night and the co-author of several works of non-fiction, including Jantsen's Gift, with Pam Cope. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two daughters. Learn more at www.aimeemolloy.com.

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